Venmo is doing away with its global payments feed as part of a major redesign of the popular financial technology app.
Venmo, which is part of PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL,
plans to make several changes to its app to draw attention to a wider range of services that go beyond peer-to-peer payments and can bring revenue to the company.
The redesigned app, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks, will make it easier for users to access newer Venmo features like buying cryptocurrencies and managing debit and credit cards. It will also end the global feed which gave users a glimpse into payments between strangers who chose to make their transactions public.
The public feed has been criticized by privacy advocates, although Venmo Managing Director Darrell Esch said the decision to remove the feed was because the company was “streamlining” its app to focus on elements other than just peer-to – Focus on peer transactions. Venmo will instead highlight its Friends Feed, which shows how a user’s friends do business with each other if they chose to make their payments public.
Esch said that the Venmo team “started talking about the change at the end of last year”. The global feed once provided an “opportunity to see what’s going on with people across the platform,” something the team felt was less necessary given that Venmo has more to do with himself, he added.
Venmo recently said it would give users more control over their friends list after reporters at BuzzFeed News were able to find President Joe Biden’s account by searching the friend lists of people on his network. Previously, Venmo made a user’s friends list public, but now users can make their lists private and choose not to appear on other people’s lists.
The company will continue to publish transactions by default, with the option for users to apply more privacy controls. “The program is constantly evolving, but at the moment we are not making this change,” said Esch in the discussion about Venmo’s decision to maintain a public default.
Other changes include a redesigned menu to make it easier for users to discover other aspects of Venmo, such as cryptocurrency trading, and debit and credit cards. Venmo focuses on “discovering these new services” by placing the icons for these functions prominently at the bottom of the app. Previously, in addition to peer-to-peer payments, users had to dig through a menu for many aspects.
There is a business component behind this move as PayPal seeks to make Venmo a more powerful money machine. It’s free for friends to send payments to each other, but card and crypto transactions offer revenue opportunities.
“What was mostly a peer-to-peer app not so long ago is becoming a more feature-rich wallet, and we’ve also accelerated the monetization path and income diversification,” said Esch.
Venmo recently announced plans to allow users to flag payments for purchases of goods and services. When users classify payments in this way, Venmo adds purchase protection in case there are issues with the transaction and charges the seller 1.9% of the transaction amount plus 10 cents.
The change will “create clarity and bring a new type of transaction to the platform,” said Esch. The company plans to roll out this feature through the redesigned app as well, starting with a pilot project starting this week.