The phrase name “Venmo Me” is already in wide use among the tech-savvy, and yet this way of paying for purchases may not be familiar to all shopkeepers. That is in part because the program was originally used by friends or colleagues to share expenses, and has only recently become yet another cash-free payment option for retail stores and online businesses.

Paypal now owns Venmo, which was founded in 2010 by roommates at the University of Pennsylvania who wanted to settle debts among friends using mobile phones. It was originally text message based, and transitioned to a smartphone app before being acquired by Braintree in 2012 for $26 million, then by PayPal just a year later for $800 million. (And yes, we are in the wrong business when it comes to getting rich quick…)

It wasn’t until 2016 that the program was offered to merchants as a payment option, and now any business accepting PayPal can also accept Venmo. The easiest way to accept Venmo is for online purchases, however it can also be a feature — along with Apple Pay and Android Pay — in a digital wallet. These contactless forms of payment work via near field communication (NFC) technology.

Like PayPal, Venmo users set up an account that allows them to transfer money both in and out. One advantage of the app is that the consumer’s shipping, banking and credit card information can be securely contained within the user’s profile, making it quick to check out. And the program is clearly growing in popularity: according to Statista, the platform’s net payment volume was $14 billion in the second quarter of 2018, representing a 78 percent year-on-year growth.

A big advantage to retailers is that Venmo has an active social component. Unless the user makes a special effort to make their information private, Venmo users can see where others are shopping. This sharing of information is a great way to build your store’s brand awareness among younger consumers. So it you already have an NFC system in place to receive contactless payment, it makes sense to encourage shoppers to “Venmo Us.”

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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