It's already great for paying back friends and splitting the rent, but Venmo is about to get even more useful. In a bid to court a more youthful generation of online shoppers, PayPal -- the popular app's parent company -- announced this morning that over 2 million US online retailers will accept payments through Venmo.
The process is simple enough: when shopping on a mobile website run by a participating retailer, you have to select the option to pay via PayPal. That'll should you into a separate screen where you can select your Venmo account to complete the transaction. Easy peasy. Oh, and since this is Venmo we're talking about, it's probably no surprise that you'll be able to split the cost of your online purchases with friends once the transaction appears in your Venmo feed.
To be clear, you're not going to be authorizing online Venmo purchases from your desktop -- Venmo checkout will only work on mobile websites and in apps that already feature PayPal support. That's not exactly a surprise given Venmo's distinctly mobile originals. Fortunately, PayPal COO Bill Ready said support for Venmo transactions will be almost as widespread as support for PayPal itself -- that's saying something considering how deeply PayPal has woven itself into the commercial fabric of the internet. The list of newly Venmo-friendly retailers is a long one, and includes cultural heavyweights like Foot Locker and Lululemon. Some online storefronts are obviously more scrupulous than others, so it helps that PayPal's purchase protection guidelines apply to transactions completed with Venmo, too.
The announcement comes at a cost for the retailers who choose to accept Venmo payments -- they'll be charged processing fees for each Venmo transaction, the hope being that increased sales from young shoppers will offset the slivers of cash that siphoned into PayPal's coffers. On the flip side, these retailers don't have to do any additional work to start taking people's money via Venmo, and since your online purchases will show up in your Venmo transaction feed, some of these online stores may benefit from a little extra social exposure. We'll soon see whether businesses actually see growth as a result of PayPal's Venmo push -- consider us highly skeptical.