Primer — a U.K. startup that has built a drag-and-drop framework to help merchants easily build payment stacks to sell online — has seen rapid take-up of its services in the 20 months since it launched. Now the company is announcing a Series B of $50 million at a $425 million valuation to double down on the opportunity to do more.
ICONIQ Growth — the growth-stage arm of the San Francisco wealth management and investment firm connected to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey and other high net-worth tech executives — led the round with existing investors Accel, Balderton Capital, Seedcamp, Speedinvest and RTP Global among those also participating.
Primer today works across more than 20 countries and has some 45 integrations that its merchant users can add to their payment flows, ranging from payments providers like Stripe, Apple Pay, Adyen and Braintree, through to fraud screening from Riskified, sales tax calculations from TaxJar and more. When a user creates a payment workflow, Primer creates a separate line of code that developers can use to integrate what’s been built on Primer.
The plan will be both to add in more integrations, to expand the kinds of relationships Primer builds with the wider payments ecosystem and to build new services for merchants, too.
“We are building out a whole suite in the next year to aid merchants with operations and the observability of the payment stack,” said Paul Anthony, Prime’s co-founder and CEO.
There is a curious paradox in the world of e-commerce.
On one side, e-commerce companies spend a lot of time (and money) in trying to build experiences that are as simple as possible, to keep shoppers sticking around, interested and buying things.
On the other, payments — which are at the heart of all e-commerce experiences — are notoriously fragmented.
“Preferred payment method” changes depending on which country you go to; and so too do the different companies that are part of the payments process, and the services that can be (and should be) rolled in with payments, such as identity verification.
It’s one reason why so many embedded payments companies have emerged over the years: They have done all the hard work knitting several transactions and stakeholders in the payments process together, and now all a merchant needs to do is add a couple of lines of code to their sites for payments to appear and work.
Payments companies, keen to grow their business and their margins, are consolidating a number of commerce technology providers — for example, Stripe has been on something of an acquisition spree this year bringing in tools to calculate sales tax, to help manage identity verification and more — but Primer believes that this is not the full story.
Anthony and his co-founder Gabriel Le Roux saw some of the pain points that bigger merchants faced firsthand when they worked together at Braintree. Even with the might of PayPal at their disposal, those merchants still faced a lot of complexity in building and maintaining their payments stacks.
Primer’s mostly midmarket customers — they include micromobility startup Voi, Freddie’s Flowers and Parkopedia — helping with payments strategy and use to engage with customers on average use between four and five services in their payments stack, Le Roux said, and that number is slowly growing.
The importance of a tool like Primer is not just to make it much easier to build the payments check-out flow (e.g., creating a tree where you can map out all of the options of what happens when a person tries to make a purchase and it’s rejected or approved by, say, a card company) but simply to give those merchants an easier way of having a choice of providers, testing out different payments services and more.
“Over the past two decades, the pace of new payment solutions entering the market has been accelerating dramatically to support global consumer demand for trends like mobile payments, digital wallets, 1-click checkout, buy now, pay later and so on,” said Roy Luo, a partner at ICONIQ Growth, in a statement. “However, no one payment solution is close to accommodating all the changes and innovations that merchants need to keep up. So, for merchants’ payment and engineering teams, this dynamic forces immense technical complexity in tying together multiple payment methods, gateways, fraud detection and more.”