Facebook is great for showing off your kids and pets. Instagram is great for showing off your vacation. And Venmo is great for showing off your purchases.
Venmo now wants to lean into its status as one of the few places online where it's acceptable to talk up your latest spending habits. The PayPal-owned money-transfer service said Tuesday that starting this week its users can pick Venmo as a payment option when shopping at more than 2 million US retailers' mobile websites, including Walmart, Target, Lululemon and Forever 21. This new feature isn't yet available for desktop users.
Venmo, a US-only service, was able to expand to so many online retail sites all at once because it's tapping into PayPal's existing network. For now, users will even have to click on the PayPal button when checking out to find the Venmo payment option.
Venmo on Tuesday also said that by the end of this year it will start allowing users to withdraw their balances to their bank accounts instantly for 25 cents per transaction.
The new retail feature, which Venmo had been testing since early last year with a handful of retailers, could help the service expand beyond its current place as a social-media-and-emoji-infused money-transfer app with a big millennial user base and into a broader payment service for more people. More useful to PayPal, the new service will allow it to charge merchants for purchases, providing PayPal with its first major way to make money from Venmo since the popular app launched five years ago.
Also, Venmo is hoping it can supercharge its social feeds, where folks post their transfers to friends, by allowing them to share transactions with retailers, too. By default, these retail transactions will be private, and users can then decide whether they want to share them publicly.
"We think social commerce scales into every age range, and we want to offer it to everyone," Ben Mills, Venmo's head of product, said in an interview.
The change may also help take out some of the annoyance of mobile shopping, where many potential buyers abandon their carts because it's too time consuming and irritating to type out billing and shipping information on tiny screens.
"We think e-commerce is a great way to start," Mills said about Venmo's latest expansion, adding that the service will keep working on its original vision of letting people eventually use it everywhere, such as stores.
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