Venmo, a unit of PayPal Holdings, is launching Venmo for mobile web checkout with more than two million U.S. retailers, according to an announcement from PayPal.
Supporting retailers, per the launch announcement, include Foot Locker, Lululemon Athletica and Forever 21. At such retailers’ mobile websites, Venmo users will be able to pay for items directly from their Venmo account balance, or by using other payment cards or accounts that they have linked to their Venmo account.
Eligible purchases made using Venmo will qualify for PayPal purchase protection, which includes the potential for full refunds if customers don’t receive their items or if the items are significantly different than the description, according to the release. Retail Dive's request for further comment on the Venmo announcement was not immediately returned.
Venmo has been inching in this direction for a long time, testing the capability with selected retailers and consumers and also enabling in-app payments with some merchants over the last year or so. A PayPal executive suggested in a June interview with Retail Dive that the company was getting very close to enabling Venmo payments at retailers.
Just last month, Venmo COO Mike Vaughan talked publicly during a conference about how a retailer like Williams-Sonoma could process purchase payments using Venmo, with PayPal then confirming to Retail Dive that Williams-Sonoma would begin accepting Venmo as a form of payment.
It has taken perhaps longer than expected to get to this point, considering that Venmo was a massive hit for a while, reportedly processing $8 billion in transactions in the second quarter of this year alone. Up to this point, though, Venmo has been primarily known as a person-to-person payments platform, with a social sharing angle that allows users to friend one another and see who is paying whom.
The lengthy wait was due to PayPal wanting to get the user experience just right, and ensure a smooth transition to the retail transaction environment. A PayPal spokeswoman told Retail Dive via e-mail, "We've been slowly introducing to make sure we get [the] experience correct. We feel really good about [the] results we've seen today, and thanks to the investment in platform tied to rollout of One Touch [PayPal's checkout capability], we're able to scale this to millions of merchants at one time."
"Over the next week, merchants on the PayPal platform will begin to see the ability to turn on Venmo as a payment option for mobile web," the PayPal spokeswoman said. Also, according to the company's press release, Venmo customers will soon be able to transfer money from Venmo to their bank accounts via eligible debit cards, providing access to funds for $0.25 per transfer. The company claims that funds will be available in a customer’s bank account in a matter of seconds, although some banks may take up to 30 minutes.
That new option will be available to all Venmo users over the coming months and Venmo assures customers that the funds in a customer’s balance are immediately available to use when shopping with Venmo. There is no charge to transfer funds directly to a customer’s bank account through Venmo's original bank transfer functionality.
This should be an exciting moment for retailers, as it gives them the chance to dip into Venmo's youthful demographic of users, and although the mobile wallet space is more crowded that ever right now, Venmo brings a user base and leverage that can't be ignored. The company is also reportedly testing other forms of payment, such as a physical debit card, a move which could make it an even greater force to be reckoned with.