Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Venmo Adds Support for Mobile Purchases

  • Customers can pay with app at more than 2 million retailers
  • Payments giant seeks to make Venmo ‘ubiquitous digital wallet’

The days when Venmo was just known as the app for splitting dinner bills with friends are over.

PayPal Inc.’s peer-to-peer payments service can now be used to make mobile purchases at more than 2 million U.S. retailers, an effort to broaden Venmo’s appeal and bring in more money. The announcement Tuesday significantly expands the app’s reach in stores, up from the “thousands” of merchants PayPal had said in July accepted Venmo payments.

"Our vision for Venmo is to not only be the go-to app for payments between friends, but also a ubiquitous digital wallet that helps consumers spend wherever and however they want to pay, regardless of device," PayPal Chief Operating Officer Bill Ready said in a statement.

PayPal acquired Venmo through its $800 million purchase of Braintree Payment Solutions LLC in 2013. The service has been popular among millennials, who often use it to split rent checks and restaurant bills. But PayPal has been pushing to expand the product, which handled $8 billion worth of peer-to-peer transactions in the second quarter, more than double the same period a year earlier. Stores that will now accept Venmo include Lululemon Athletica Inc., Forever 21 Inc. and Foot Locker Inc., the company said.

“This is one step in the right direction towards Venmo monetization,” said Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. The ability to shop with merchants “will hopefully improve engagement among the Venmo customer base,” he said.

In addition to sharing cash or dividing purchases among friends, Venmo users will soon be able to instantly transfer funds from the app to their bank accounts using eligible debit cards, the company said Tuesday.

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