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Its Business Model and Competition

What Is Venmo?

Venmo has emerged as one of the in style apps for electronically transferring funds from one occasion to a different. Its explosive progress is basically pushed by millennials, who even use its title as a verb, as in: “I will Venmo you for the meals.”

Venmo was initially created by Iqram Magdon-Ismail and Andrew Kortina, who met as faculty roommates on the College of Pennsylvania. Because the story goes, the duo was serving to a good friend launch a frozen yogurt retailer and grew pissed off with the inadequacy of conventional point-of-sales software program. Then at an area jazz live performance, they conceived the idea of immediately buying MP3s of the efficiency, through textual content message. They quickly developed a prototype for sending money by way of textual content messages earlier than pivoting to a smartphone app method.

In 2010, Magdon-Ismail and Kortina raised $1.2 million of seed cash by way of a financing spherical, then two years later, their firm was acquired by Braintree, a fintech funds firm. In 2013, PayPal acquired Braintree for $800 million.

There was initially little fanfare round Venmo, till an aggressive advertising push in 2015, when PayPal introduced the slogan: “Pay with Venmo,” and instructed clients to make use of the app at retailers, in lieu of money or bank cards. The timing for this marketing campaign completely aligned with an financial system the place money is slowly turning into out of date, and individuals are much less inclined to put in writing checks or go to the ATM.

Key Takeaways

  • Venmo has emerged as one of the in style apps for electronically transferring funds, from one occasion to a different.
  • Venmo facilitates digital funds inside a social community of recognized mates and other people in shut geographical proximity.
  • Not like its opponents, Venmo doesn’t cost customers to ship or obtain extra money, though credit score card-based funds are charged.

Venmo Enterprise Mannequin

Venmo doesn’t cost particular person customers for sending or receiving funds, nor does the corporate cost any month-to-month or annual charges. Venmo generates income through its interchange and withdrawal charges, curiosity on money, charges for cashing checks, Pay With Venmo, and affiliate commissions on its cashback program. Venmo additionally expenses a 3% payment it expenses for bank card transactions.

Venmo affords a debit card in partnership with Mastercard (MA). Because of this, customers can use their Venmo steadiness to make purchases wherever MasterCard is accepted in the USA. ATM withdrawals are free so long as they settle for MoneyPass. In any other case, there may very well be a payment. Then, in 2020, Venmo launched its bank card. Synchrony Financial institution points the Venmo Visa Credit score Card.

How Venmo Works

Venmo facilitates digital funds inside a social community of recognized mates. Here’s a step-by-step illustration of the way it works:

Picture by Julie Bang © Investopedia 2019

Curiously, the textual content fields are sometimes flooded with emojis, resembling slices of pizza and beer steins, which sign the character of many Venmo exchanges.

Why Venmo Is Standard

Like Meta (FB), previously Fb, Instagram, and WhatsApp, Venmo grew exponentially by way of peer-to-peer networking. Customers are drawn to the next options:

  • Not like its opponents, Venmo does not cost customers to ship or obtain extra money, though credit score card-based funds are charged.
  • Venmo is among the hottest payment-splitting apps with millennials. For instance, roommates can break up the lease, and every pays their share to the owner through Venmo.
  • Customers could make funds regardless of inadequate Venmo balances as a result of the deficit quantities are retrieved from a main funding supply, resembling a financial savings account, bank card, or debit card.
  • Funds might be made to those that do not use Venmo, though the recipient should signal as much as settle for cash.
  • The “Close by Cost” operate facilitates funds to folks outdoors a person’s good friend group, offered they’re in shut geographical proximity.
  • A “belief” characteristic lets customers auto-pay for recurring bills, just like the month-to-month share of lease due.

Limitations of Venmo

As a result of Venmo is presently out there solely within the U.S., no transactions could also be made outdoors the nation, even by American customers. Additionally, safety stays a priority for these skeptical of utilizing mobile payment platforms, regardless of the app’s marketed safety settings.

One other limitation is that Venmo is primarily out there for private use, versus enterprise functions, and is linked to non-public financial institution accounts or bank cards. Venmo is mostly not supposed for use for purchases. As the corporate notes, Venmo can be utilized to pay for items or companies utilizing a Venmo Debit Card, cellular web sites, with apps which are authorised to supply Venmo, and in-store with a QR code.

A last limitation is that customers are capped to sending a most of $6,999.99 per week, on a rolling foundation, and the identical goes for receiving. That cap contains funds between two people, with the debit card, with authorised apps, and with an in-store QR code. Funds which are person-to-person are capped at $4,999.99 per week.

This may be a difficulty if you must ship or obtain a big sum, or a number of smaller sums over per week’s time frame.

Venmo Rivals

There have been important adjustments within the mobile-payment enterprise since Venmo happened. Along with social media firms, banks are actually vying for a bit of the cellular app income stream that was as soon as reserved for expertise, Fintech, and software program firms.

Google Pay

Google Pay is the closest competitor to Venmo and essentially the most related. Each are free to make use of when linked with a debit card or checking account, however Google Pay is obtainable outdoors the U.S.

Apple Pay and Android Pay

Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Pay is a fee system used for making purchases in shops with a fingertip reader on iPhones. This app solely works on iOS merchandise and is unavailable to Android customers. Nonetheless, Google developed Android Pay, which is basically the identical factor.


A gaggle of U.S. banks teamed as much as launch their very own cash switch app, referred to as Zelle, which affords cash transfers between financial institution accounts inside minutes. Based on Zelle, many main banks are associate monetary establishments, together with Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, and Financial institution of America. In 2020, the corporate facilitated $307 billion in transfers with 1.2 billion transactions.

Just like Venmo, Zelle affords break up funds and transfers for no payment to anybody that you just belief so long as they’ve a checking account within the U.S.

Zelle might grow to be the largest competitor to Venmo, contemplating the dimensions and scope of the shopper base for all the banks concerned within the Zelle partnership. Venmo averages round $10 per fee, which might point out that Venmo is used for smaller transactions, resembling meals, whereas Zelle is extra generally used for payments and lease.


Popmoney is a fee supplier that permits transfers between its 1,700 collaborating monetary establishments. Popmoney is just like Venmo however expenses $0.95 to ship cash from a debit card or checking account. It is powered by veteran financial institution expertise supplier Fiserv.

Small companies can use Popmoney, which permits transfers to staff, clients, and distributors. Conversely, Venmo does not presently permit companies to make use of their service.

Money App

Constructed by Twitter Inc. (TWTR) co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square, Inc.’s Cash App affords free debit card-based transactions by way of its cellular app.


Meta additionally has a free cash switch service through Fb Messenger, letting customers hyperlink debit playing cards and switch cash as simply as sending a textual content. Nonetheless, if in case you have a enterprise web page on Fb, you can’t ship funds on behalf of what you are promoting.

The Backside Line

Cell phone apps make lives simpler and extra handy. Venmo has the potential to substitute checking and bank card use with minimal or zero-cost digital peer-to-peer transactions. The sector will doubtless grow to be extra aggressive as new gamers enter the race.

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