Venmo Rolls Out QR Codes

by Raymond Pucci 0

 Add Venmo to the list of mobile payments providers discovering the simple utility of the QR code. The following reports how Venmo is streamlining how user profiles are input, saving keystrokes and time, while ensuring accuracy.

Venmo today quietly rolled out a feature designed to make it easier to find friends within its mobile payments app, so you can add them to your connections list or get paid yourself. The feature, found under the new menu option “Scan Code,” is available now in both the iOS and Android version of the Venmo app. When tapped, it launches a new interface that allows you to either use the phone’s camera to scan a friend’s code or view your own, unique Venmo code. Your Venmo code itself is a simple QR code that links to your profile in the app.

In addition to being able to scan the code from the phone’s screen directly, a built-in sharing feature lets you post your code to other messaging applications, including iMessage, social networks, email, notes, or save it as an image to your phone’s photo gallery for later use. A small QR code also appears next to your profile photo, above the app’s navigation. A tap on it will launch a full-screen view of your Venmo code, ready to be scanned.

Though a somewhat minor addition, the launch of QR codes goes a long way to make it faster to add friends on Venmo – something that’s a particular challenge when you’re looking for a friend who has a common name, when you don’t know a friend’s contact information, or whose Venmo handle (their @username) isn’t easy to guess.

Prior to this, users could add friends by sending them an initial payment using either their phone number or email address. Or you could login to the Venmo homepage and send an invite. The Venmo mobile app could also tap into your phone’s address book in order to automatically add friends, and allow you to send invites to those who weren’t yet using Venmo.

Venmo is not the first to implement QR codes in its app. The use of QR codes in social apps has grown more popular in recent years in the U.S. – especially after Snapchat’s 2015 launch of its cooler take on the aging barcode format with “Snapcodes” for connecting the app’s users. And in China in particular, it’s already fairly common to scan QR codes for payments, in addition to other use cases, like adding friends or downloading WeChat mini programs, among other things.

The seemingly basic QR code is now becoming a popular and ubiquitous feature on mobile payment apps. Already used for payment account scanning at many POS sites, providers such as Venmo realize the QR’s effectiveness as an input method for personal data and contact information. Smartphone keyboards are not the easiest or accurate ways to input alpha and numeric characters. So now a simple QR scan makes entering user profile and payment information a welcome relief from fat fingers and auto correct frustrations everywhere.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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