The Rise of Venmo Revealed on Social Media

Why the payment app is so popular

“I’ll Venmo you.”

You’ve probably heard this sentence before. If you are skeptical and don’t believe that Venmo is becoming a major player in the mobile-payment industry, just take a look at the numbers: In the first two quarters of 2016, Venmo accounted for $7.1 million in online transactions. And that number is only going up.


History of Venmo

After 2 years of beta testing, Venmo, the mobile-payment app, was released in 2012. Founded by two college friends who were struggling to transfer money to each other after one of them lost their wallet, Venmo has become an app with more than $10 billion in transactions.
This app allows users to transfer money with no fees (if linked to a debit card), split checks between friends and view people’s transactions on the social feed in a matter of seconds.


Photo Credit: BI Intelligence

In 2013, Venmo was acquired by transaction giant Paypal. However, there’s still a large population of younger users who aren’t aware of this, and believe that Venmo is the biggest competitor of Paypal.

The Reasons Behind Venmo’s Success

Using Crimson Hexagon’s social analytics platform, we were able to track conversation all the way to 2012. As shown in the visual, we can see how the conversation around Venmo has increased drastically since its official release and acquisition by Paypal, reflecting the rise of brand awareness and product adoption.
Despite Venmo’s strong position in the market, it is still at risk of losing its market share by competition coming from Paypal itself, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Facebook Messenger Payments, Square Cash, and more. With all these alternatives that users have when making payments, Venmo has to find a way to differentiate itself by either refining its product, or by creating effective marketing campaigns. In order to do this, we’ve looked at social conversations to see what people are saying when talking about Venmo.
We analyzed the most recent social media conversation around Venmo over a nearly two-year period (January 1, 2015 to October 1st, 2016). During this period, there were nearly 65,000 relevant posts related to Venmo, and most of the conversation was positive (38%), followed by negative sentiment (23%).

Key Takeaways

  • Most of the positive conversations came from users who love that Venmo allows them to split bills (14%). From sharing a pizza with friends to splitting the check after getting drinks, Venmo has provided them an easier way to avoid the ever-present hassle of splitting a check.
    • Surprisingly, the ‘cha-ching’ sound when someone receives a payment by a peer has been one of the most talked-about features of Venmo. As unusual as it seems, Venmo could push this sound to become Venmo’s iconic signature in future ads, and it can resonate with most Venmo users, and create a positive association with the joy of getting money into their account.
  • The second most positive feature of Venmo is that it’s free; Venmo allows for transactions with no fees, but that’s only if the account is linked to a debit card. This is one of the main reasons why Venmo is so widely adopted by a more price-sensitive younger audience. In order to attract new users, Venmo can emphasize this “no fees” policy in their future campaigns and increase brand awareness to a wider audience.

If you’ve used Venmo in the past, you probably saw a unique feature that most payment apps don’t have: a social feed.
A large number of Twitter users are expressing how much they enjoy reading the transaction descriptions by their friends, and ultimately using this feed as one of their newest favorite social media platforms. Our recommendation is that software developers and marketers at Venmo add more integrations to the social feed, such as images, videos, and more, that will increase the frequency of use of Venmo and will make users stay longer in the app.


Photo Credit: Venmo

Listening to Buyers

In terms of ways to improve user experience on Venmo, we found through social listening that people are tired of getting so many notifications (e.g. when friends join Venmo); our suggestion is that Venmo either educates users on how to unsubscribe, eases the process of unsubscribing, or ultimately decreases the number of notifications sent out to its users.
As mobile payment technology moves from infancy to a widely accepted payment alternative, Venmo needs to find ways to differentiate itself and strengthen its position in the market.
Using social media analytics, software developers, marketers, and other departments in Venmo, can understand what features they should be accentuating and which issues they should be fixing so that users can have an optimal mobile payment experience. The goal is to use social insights to drive decisions that will ultimately provide the best experience for the users so that they choose Venmo over other existing and future mobile payment apps.
Interested in learning how brands can leverage social insights? Check out our latest blog ‘Using Pattern Recognition for Powerful Insights‘ to see the different use cases for social media analytics.

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