Withdrawing a Venmo balance can test the limits of anyone’s patience (unless you’re in the beta program), but dayslong bank transfers used to be what it took to get your roommate’s rent check. Thankfully, that’s changing with the launch of Venmo’s web payments feature.
Starting today, Venmo users can shop and make purchases at any of the 2 million United States retailers that have teamed up with PayPal, Venmo’s parent company.
Venmo supported online payments previously, but only from a curated list of partners from Braintree, a PayPal-owned payments processor. “We’re dramatically expanding the number of places you can use Venmo to pay by leveraging the unrivaled scale of the PayPal merchant network,” Bill Ready, PayPal’s COO, wrote in a blog post.
Here’s how it works: When you stumble upon a website run by a participating retailer, you’ll see a button to pay via PayPal at checkout (and in the coming weeks a Venmo/PayPal dual-branded button). Clicking on will pull up a selection screen with your Venmo account, and from there, you’ll have have the option of paying the bill’s full amount or splitting it among friends.
There’s a caveat though: You can’t pay with Venmo on your desktop. Payments only work on mobile websites in apps that already support PayPal. But Venmo’s promising a fix in short order.
“Our vision for Venmo is to not only be the go-to app for payments between friends, but also a ubiquitous digital wallet that helps consumers spend wherever and however they want to pay, regardless of device,” Ready said. “Through 2017 and beyond, we will continue to evolve the payments experience that has helped make Venmo a cultural staple, while also applying that same magic to split, share and pay in new ways.”
It remains to be seen whether or not retailers take the bait, though — Venmo charges a processing fee for each transaction. But for some, the platform’s enormous volume ($8 billion last year, according to PayPal) might just make it irresistible.
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