Venmo Is Secretly Prepping a Physical Debit Card for Launch

June 26, 2017 - 2 minutes read

One of the major goals of FinTech app developers is to disrupt the way banking is done (after all, who trusts the banks?). Lately, digital payment services are doing that by offering services that make them more bank-like, such as issuing their own plastic. Square Cash recently debuted its debit card, and Apple unveiled its own digital debit card called Apple Pay Cash earlier this month. Popular digital wallet Venmo appears to be dipping its toes into the same water — and right in the nick of time. Square Cash’s person-to-person payment service and Apple’s new feature that allows people to transfer cash via iMessage have encroached on Venmo’s terrain, and now it risks falling behind on this new debit card trend.

Venmo has grown to be something of a staple for its mostly young user base, a quick and easy way to split a dinner check with friends or to hit up your roommate for his share of the utilities. Since 2015, there’s been a 10% jump in the number of the Americans regularly using person-to-person mobile payment services. Currently, 15% of Americans use such a service; by 2020, 35% of the population will make apps like Venmo and Square Cash part of their lives. This is great news for San Diego FinTech app developers, but an important question remains for a company like Venmo: what avenues are available for more revenue?

A physical debit card could be one such avenue, since card issuers get a cut from merchants on every transaction a cardholder makes. Venmo’s debit card would benefit the app’s users as well, giving them the option to spend the money they’ve collected on the app in actual brick-and-mortar stores, without having to wait while their balance transfers over to their bank account. It should be noted that at this point, the card is unconfirmed by Venmo, but the feeds of some of the company’s employees seem to indicate that testing is underway, with purchases made at fast food joints and little local shops. For FinTech app developers, this kind of direct pay is a victory, cutting the banks out of the process and making them seem a little irrelevant.

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