Venmo started out in 2009 as a way for founders Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail to pay each other without having to exchange cash or write a cheque. The first prototype worked over SMS, Andrew and Iqram would send notes alongside the cash to keep track of payments.
While SMS functionality died with the app launch in late 2010, the social element of Venmo remains one of the app’s core features. In early demos, Venmo founders proposed it as a way for musicians to sell songs and merchandise at live gigs, and as a way for students to pay their favourite food trucks.
Venmo uses peer-to-peer technology to send money online, but it isn’t a holding account. Users connect a debit or credit card to the app, which it can use to send and withdraw money from Venmo.
It took almost three years for Venmo to launch publicly, although iPhone and Android users could join through the app by September 2011. A few months after it officially launched, online payments provider Braintree acquired it for $26.2 million.
A year later, PayPal agreed to an $800 million purchase of Braintree, which included Venmo. This was back when PayPal was a growing subsidiary in the eBay behemoth, which it split from in 2015. In the split, PayPal took Venmo with it.
PayPal revolutionized the way people pay businesses online, but it never developed a system for paying friends easily. Venmo removed all transaction costs, allowing friends to send money online for free. This made it a major hit for people that don’t carry cash, like students and teens, which led to it entering the lexicon of technology brands that are also verbs.
Venmo generates revenue through a 30 cents and 2.9 percent transaction fee for businesses. Over two million merchants accept Venmo in the United States. Venmo also charges a one percent fee for users who want to withdraw money instantly to their linked card, usual withdrawals take one to two days.
PayPal also sees Venmo’s social network as a potential revenue generator. Users are able to spy on their friends, to see who they’re sending money to or what they’re spending it on. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman described this as the “secret sauce” in a 2015 interview.
It’s not clear how PayPal turns this social spying into income. It has been suggested some type of advertising platform, targeting users based on purchases or friend activity. Venmo could also use data shared to build an analytics platform for merchants.
Venmo has been the subject of several cyberattacks, as hackers use the social platform to scrape data on millions of transactions. The app has made changes to its API in the past year, alongside informative articles on how to keep payments private, but for many the allure of Venmo is the social network.
In the past two years, Venmo has seen significant growth from 10 million to 40 million users. It has also doubled revenue and tripled payment volume. The seven largest banks in America launched a competitor to Venmo in 2017, called Zelle, which shares some of the similarities without the social platform.
Zelle has gained a strong foothold in the US, but Venmo still holds a commanding lead in the under 35 age bracket. Square’s Cash App is also competing for those customers. Only 20 percent of Americans use mobile apps to pay for things, a lot less than China, India and Europe.
We have collected data and statistics on Venmo’s revenue, usage and demographics. Read on below to find out more.
|Launch date||August 2009 (March 2012 public launch)|
|HQ||New York City, US|
|People||Dan Schulman (PayPal CEO), Mark Britto (CPO)|
Note: PayPal refers to Venmo users as those who use the app more than once a year.
Venmo Monthly Active Users
Venmo Annual Payment Volume
Note: * Estimated value ** Projected revenue by PayPal
Note: 2020 valuation estimate uses Venmo’s percentage of revenue generation for PayPal ($300 million into $17.77 billion, 16%) as guide for market cap value.
Venmo vs Cash App vs Zelle: Payment Volume
Note: Square total payment volume includes income from outside the Cash App. If broke down, Venmo would most likely be ahead of Cash App.
Venmo other key stats
- Venmo transacted more than $100 billion in 2019 and is on track to reach $150 billion this year (Statista)
- Venmo is projected to have an annual revenue run rate of $450 million in 2020 (CNBC)
- Over two million US merchants accept Venmo (BusinessWire)
- Venmo contributes about 15 percent to PayPal’s total revenue
- Venmo has over 50 million users (Venmo)
- Approximately 65 percent of them are active once a month (CNBC)
- Users average five transactions per month
- The average transaction amount has dipped in the past year to $75, from a high of $83 in 2017 (Ark-Invest)
- This is much lower than competitor Zelle, which averages $300 per transaction (WSJ)
- 50 percent of users are between the ages 25 to 34, 33 percent are between 18 and 24
- 61 percent of users are male, 39 percent female (Mediapost)
- 14 percent of adult Americans use Venmo for peer-to-peer transactions (PayPal)
- Pizza slice and love heart are the most popular emojis used on the platform (Venmo)