London-founded Primer is only 20 months old, but investors recognise that it’s solving a big problem for e-commerce merchants at a crucial time, and just injected $50m into the startup at its Series B fundraising round.
US investment firm ICONIQ Growth led the latest round, accompanied by cash injections from existing investors including Balderton Capital, Accel, Seedcamp, Speedinvest and RTP Global.
Founded in early 2020 by ex-Paypal employees Gabriel Le Roux and Paul Anthony, Primer helps big e-commerce merchants mix and match payment services providers (PSPs) and make it easy to take on more payment methods in the future.
Examples of Primer’s ecommerce clients include flower delivery company Freddie’s Flowers, and wine vendor Vino75.
Co-founder Le Roux stresses that Primer is “not a payments company”, but instead is the first company to provide an underlying infrastructure so that merchants can use one single payments programme interface, known as an API, to onboard several PSPs.
“While at Paypal for quite some time, we were both working with very large businesses across the globe trying to help them optimise payments,” Le Roux tells City AM.
“Large merchants wanted to give customers several PSP options, as well as using accounting software, open banking, rewards systems etc. But this was too complex for them as there was no underlying infrastructure to support this.”
It’s been dubbed a “no code” startup, as it enables e-commerce companies to completely avoid the complex back end processes needed to add multiple payment options, and gives them the ability to simply click on Primer’s “workflow” dashboard to integrate a new one.
So far, dozens of the payments services vying for UK online shoppers’ attention have partnered with Primer, including Klarna, GoCardless, WorldPay, Stripe and Checkout.com.
And although its platform may increase competition amongst these services by pinning them against each other at one site’s checkout, Le Roux says Primer is “payments agnostic” and “completely open to new providers” in the future.
Primer’s fully remote team currently stands at 70 employees across 20 countries, including in the UK, US, Europe and Asia, and part of the new cash injection will go towards tripling its headcount across key markets next year.
Unlike the PSPs its platform supports, Primer does not provide payments itself, and therefore bypasses financial regulation – making it easier for the company to scale across multiple geographies with varying regulatory approaches to payments disruptors.
“The challenges faced by merchants are the same across the world,” Le Roux says.
While the UK has been ahead of the game in terms of e-commerce adoption for a while, the pandemic accelerated its use globally, which resulted in a “growing willingness for companies looking to optimise,” according to Le Roux.
And as the likes of Klarna and Stripe battle to come out on top in the increasingly crowded, investment-rich payments space, so far Primer is the only automation platform out there.
This is good news for the new product pipeline, engineering investments, growing headcount and payments partnerships it intends to use the latest funds to roll out over the next few months.
“Online payments are only growing – it’s only going one way,” Le Roux says.