Magazine article American Banker

How Venmo's Card Keeps the Attention on Its App

Magazine article American Banker

How Venmo's Card Keeps the Attention on Its App

Article excerpt

Byline: John Adams

Despite a reputation for being the go-to P2P app of digital natives, Venmo is once again pushing its market in the opposite direction with the debut of a plastic card.

The card follows a move to prune web-based P2P payments, keeping the Venmo experience focused on mobile devices. Even the card's application page directs users to open the Venmo app to reserve one of the limited-issue Venmo-branded Mastercards.

In addition to making retail payments, the Venmo card can be used to reload Venmo balances via ATMs. Venmo did not immediately return a request for comment, including a query on how the Mastercard impacts Venmo's relationship with Visa, which had a Venmo card in beta. TechCrunch reports the Visa test customers will have the option to migrate to the Mastercard, which is being issued by The Bancorp Bank, but cannot continue to use the Visa-branded Venmo cards.

Venmo mentioned the card's "anywhere you shop" and in-store access prominently in its announcement, suggesting the card is part of the brand's broader push as a retail option. The card will be offered in six colors, giving it a chance to stand out in the user's wallet. This is no small detail; many credit cards -- including one offered by PayPal, which owns Venmo -- use colored cores to distinguish themselves visually in the tiny space that's still visible when cards are stuffed into a traditional wallet.

Despite the benefits of offering plastic cards, they are not always a good fit for a digital payment brand. The plastic Google Wallet card was meant for the same purpose as the Venmo card -- allowing a digital wallet to be used at merchants that don't otherwise accept it -- and was phased out in 2016. And Venmo's own plastic card went through a first iteration as a Visa card that featured a bland lump of pizza dough as its design, and drew immediate criticism for that choice of art. …

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