During the Covid-19 crisis, the move to contactless payments has accelerated drastically. Between March 2019 and March 2020, the service grew in the U.S. by 150%, according to Visa.
Venmo, an app typically used for transactions between friends and family, is launching a new feature for sole proprietors, side hustlers and sellers to launch a Business Profile on the app.
In a blog post, Venmo said it understands this is an especially difficult time for people to “connect, market and grow their businesses, relying solely on traditional methods like word of mouth without access to big marketing budgets.”
Through this new profile, businesses will be able to utilize touch-free transactions with an individual QR code. They’ll also be able to market their businesses by attaching their sites and descriptions to their pages.
“We built Business Profiles to offer the same social experience you enjoy when using Venmo with your friends and family today,” a statement from the company read. “Now, you can accept payments and track and share activity on Venmo—for your own business.”
A unique aspect of doing business through Venmo is the visibility of customer purchases. Venmo users can see their friends’ purchases, meaning a business gains possible consumer views any time a user with friends buys its products. Businesses can also connect with users and track their purchases, examine consumer behavior and gain insights that would normally require more expensive tools.
The trial is currently invite-only, but Venmo’s goal is to expand the service to make it available for a larger base of the 75% of small businesses that are sole proprietors, so they can utilize Venmo’s platform of 52 million users to expand their reach.
For now, the profile will not come with an additional cost to businesses, but the brand says that may change in the future.
Other major players are exploring advances in contactless payments as well. Amazon was rumored earlier this year to be testing pay-by-hand scanner payments, which link credit and debit cards to the hands of consumers. Walmart responded to an overwhelming need for contactless pickup and delivery throughout the pandemic with a mobile app that stores payment information.