Venmo Helps Micro-Businesses Accept Payments For Free (For Now)

Micro-businesses, such as sole proprietors and gig workers, are an underserved group when it comes to financial management tools.

Seeing this need, and recognizing that more than 75% of small businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietors, Braintree-owned Venmo is releasing a new set of tools to help them connect, market, and grow their business.

“Venmo was designed to be a place where friends and family can send, split and share purchases and experiences. Today, we are introducing a very limited pilot to extend that experience to allow sellers to access the benefits of Venmo’s platform through Business Profiles,” the company announced in a blog post.

Currently in a pilot phase, Business Profiles allow consumers to create a business profile (separate from their personal profile) on Venmo in order to accept payment for goods and services. Business users can also tap into Venmo’s community of 52+ million users to generate interest, referrals, and awareness of their brand.

At launch, Venmo will not charge businesses transaction fees. This is likely because the company recognizes that the micro-businesses it is targeting already use its P2P money transfer service to accept payments for their business. Venmo cautioned that it will eventually charge a per-transaction fee of 1.9% + $0.10, but did not mention when it will begin charging the fees.

Venmo’s Business Profiles launch today to a limited number of iOS users on an invite-only basis and will be available for Android users “in the coming weeks. The company plans to make the new service more widely available “in the coming months.”


Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash

Helping Secure Digital Identities; Managing Financial Crime Risk

Two of the biggest themes in fintech – digital identity and the rise of fintech in Central and Eastern Europe – meet in the latest announcement from biometric authentication specialist and Finovate Best of Show winner iProov. The company’s facial recognition technology now makes it easier for users of SK ID Solutions’ Smart-ID Service in countries like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to renew their accounts without having to visit a physical bank branch.

“This is a major development for all digital identity providers,” iProov CEO Andrew Bud said. “Estonia has proved, for the first time, that a remote, automated, biometric ID verification service can deliver the highest possible levels of security.”

Recognized as equal to a handwritten signature throughout Europe, Smart-IDs enable users to authenticate themselves and provide permissions online using a smartphone app. iProov’s facial recognition technology adds a three-second scan to compare the image of the user to the image on their presented ID document to help defend against fraud and identity theft.

Smart-ID also leverages NFC-based ReadID document verification technology from InnoValor.

Financial crime risk management innovator Featurespace will be helping Enfuce combat fraud and money laundering courtesy of a newly announced partnership. Enfuce, a financial services firm based in Finland, will use Featurespace’s ARIC Risk Hub to enhance its ability to protect its customers from fraud and financial crime.

“Our clients deserve industry-leading services that allow them to freely and fully concentrate on the success of their core business, without worrying about ever-evolving fraud,” Enfuce co-founder and chair Monika Liikamaa said.

ARIC Risk Hub offers real-time transaction monitoring for fraud and financial crime, enabling institutions to identify and act against anomalous and potentially dangerous behavior as it occurs. The technology also reduces the number of false positives by as much as 70%, keeping anti-fraud processes efficient. Featurespace introduced its fraud-fighting technology to Finovate audiences at FinovateEurope 2016.


Here is a round up of recent news from our Finovate alumni.

  • Sezzle unveils new logo along with its first annual report.
  • Flybits expands its executive team in New York, Toronto, the U.K., and Dubai.
  • ID R&D updates voice biometric solution IDVoice.
  • M1 Finance surpasses $1 billion in assets on its platform.
  • Armor Bank selects Teslar Software’s automated workflow and portfolio management tools.
  • Mastercard partners with myPOS to boost adoption of card payment solutions among European SMEs.
  • Black Hills FCU selects nCino’s Bank Operating System.
  • Bazaarvoice launches partnership program with Yotpo as the piloting partner.
  • Keysafe inks partnership with Salt Edge to access tenants’ bank data without the need to acquire its own PSD2 license.
  • Lending Club appoints Annie Armstrong as Chief Risk Officer.
  • Assaray Trade and Investment Bank selects Temenos Infinity and Transact to power its digital transformation.
  • Long John Silver’s chooses Blackhawk Network for gift card program.
  • Trustly and Fly Norwegian team up to let travelers pay directly from their bank accounts.
  • Pindrop launches Deep Voice 3, the new version of its voice recognition technology.
  • Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga steps down, replaced by Chief Product Officer Michael Miebach.
  • Venmo to launch debit card for teens.
  • Almost 600 banks select Fiserv’s Turnkey Service for Zelle.
  • Finastra to offer ClickSWITCH’s account switching technolkogy to its clients.
  • Simmons Bank partners with Jack Henry to leverage its Banno platform to build a digital presence.
  • Currencycloud and Currensea team up.
  • Yseop and Automation Anywhere join forces to scale intelligent automation.
  • Lighter Capital appoints Kevin Fink at CTO and Patricia Elliott as CSO.
  • InComm launches Roblox gift cards in France and Germany.

Finovate Alum Features and Profiles

Revolut’s $500 Million Round Boosts Valuation to $5.5 Billion – Global financial platform Revolut has secured its place as the U.K.’s most valuable fintech.

Dealing with Deepfakes in Fintech – The fintech industry is ripe with security firms, such as iProov, that use AI to combat both video and audio deepfakes with anti-spoofing technologies.

Envestnet | Yodlee Acquires Indian Data Aggregator FinBit.io – Envestnet | Yodlee has acquired another asset in its strategy to further grow and develop its data aggregation and analytics business.

Meet Sonect: Cash Network Builder, Finovate Newcomer, Best of Show Winner – What’s better than having a large pizza with all your favorite toppings delivered to your front door? How about a side order of cash, saving you a trip to the ATM or bank branch?

Azimo Taps Ripple for Cross-Border Payments to the Philippines – Fueling these payment transfers is Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) solution that uses XRP to source liquidity and complete money transfers within three seconds.

Lendio Lands $55 Million to Match Small Businesses with Lenders – The investment more than doubles the company’s previous funding, bringing its total to $108.5 million.

SheerID Expands Identity Marketing Platform – The move enables brands to identify and acquire new customers across the globe.

Visa to Acquire Plaid in $5.3 Billion Deal

Updated 1/14/2020: The first big fintech acquisition of the year just crossed the headlines: Visa has agreed to acquire innovative fintech Plaid for a reported $5.3 billion in “total purchase consideration.”

“Today marks an important milestone for our company and for fintech,” company co-founder and CEO Zach Perret wrote on the Plaid blog earlier today. “What started with two founders building in a cramped conference room has become an incredible network that enables millions of consumers to interact with over 2,500 digital finance products.”

Plaid’s technology connects digital consumers with thousands of apps and services ranging from Transferwise and Betterment to Chime, Acorns, and popular payment app, Venmo. The company estimates that one in four individuals with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect with thousands of developers across 11,000+ financial institutions.

Visa said the acquisition will bolster the company’s capacity to serve and reputation with fintech developers – especially when it comes to providing them with enhanced payment functionality and related value-added services. Visa also believes the acquisition will help open new business opportunities both in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business,” Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said. “Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions, and consumers.”

Visa participated in Plaid’s Series C round in 2018, which was led by Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. The company raised $250 million in that funding raising effort. Plaid began the year with an acquisition of its own, purchasing account aggregation and data analytics technology provider Quovo in January of 2019. The value of that deal was not disclosed; Bloomberg reported that the sticker price for Quovo could have been as high as $200 million. Quovo, incidentally, is also a FinDEVr alum, participating in our New York developers conference in 2017.

Plaid demonstrated its technology at FinDEVrSiliconValley in 2014, demonstrating how its API for Financial Infrastructure enabled developers to leverage data quickly, efficiently, and securely power fintech applications. Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded in 2012, Plaid had raised $310 million in funding previous to today’s announcement.

The ripples from the acquisition news are reverberating throughout the fintech community. And while some are worried about the ability of the innovative startup from San Francisco continue to drive change in the industry, others are busy heralding the news as a victory for fintech and incumbent financial services firms, alike.

Indeed, the acquisition of Plaid by Visa has put other fintechs involved in financial data on notice that they too may hear an inquiring knock on their proverbial doors. One observer on Twitter asked “Will $MA pick up Finicity now?” As of this writing, neither company has deigned to comment.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Scalable Capital Raises $28 Million.
  • Finicity Launches Student Loan Account Verification.

Around the web

  • Splitit announces partnership with music software provider Ableton.
  • Jack Henry reports partnerships with 57 community financial institutions in fiscal 2019.
  • Western Union deploys customer journey optimization solution, Nexidia, from Nice Systems.
  • Venmo launches instant transfers to bank accounts.
  • Quadient unveils new archived document and data retrieval solution.
  • Euromoney features BioCatch in its look at the fintech scene in Israel.
  • SuperMoney tops $2 billion in loan requests via its online lending marketplace platform.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

Around the web

  • New partnership makes Venmo a payment option for Uber and Uber Eats.
  • Hedgeable announces plan to end management of accounts by mid-August.
  • IdentityMind Global to provide KYC for Ontology Trust Ecosystem.
  • Socure named to Red Herring Top 100 in North America for 2018.
  • Mortgage Cadence integrates compliance auditing and monitoring into its loan origination platform.
  • Bluefin and Verifone team up to boost payment security with PCI-validated Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE).
  • Twisto payment platform goes live in Poland this week.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Blend, Roostify Earn Honors at MBA Insights 2018 Tech All-Star Awards.
  • Qapital’s Latest $30 Million to Fuel New Roboadvisory Tools.

Around the web

  • FICO boosts financial crime protection with new suite of solutions.
  • Ping Identity achieves ISO 27001 Certification.
  • Luxoft teams with Softbank Robotics America to bring its humanoid robot Pepper to life.
  • MicroStrategy releases 3 new gateways to Microsoft Azure.
  • Woleet, a blockchain-based timestamp and signature app, is now available on Ledger Nano S.
  • Grubhub partners with PayPal’s Venmo on bill-splitting feature.
  • Avoka sees positive trends for North American banks in its 2018 State of Digital Sales in Banking Report.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • BankBazaar Receives $30 Million in Funding Round Led by Experian.
  • Feedzai Secures $50 Million in New Funding.
  • BlueVine Lands $130 Million in Debt Financing.
  • Sensibill Brings Receipt Management to Royal Bank of Scotland’s Business Banking Customers.

Around the web

  • Entersekt hires Sherif Samy as SVP for North American operations.
  • Visa and Billtrust team up to streamline B2B payment reconciliation and support automation of virtual card payments.
  • PayPal announces Vemno is now payment option at more than two million U.S. retailers.
  • Narrative Science wins Microsoft Office 2017 App Award for Best Business Value.
  • TransCard partners with ExpenseAnywhere to Deliver Automated Payment Process Management Solutions.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Behalf Teams Up with FinWise Bank to Boost Small Business Lending Options
  • Samsung to Power Biometric Authentication Pilot for Bank of America
  • ACH Alert’s Fraud Prevention HQ Empowers Account Holders to Stop Suspicious Transactions

Around the web

  • PayPal unveils two new innovation labs in India.
  • Albany, New York-based SEFCU chooses Fiserv as technology partner.
  • FICO selects Amazon Web Services as its cloud provider.
  • SF Chronicle profiles mortgagetech innovator, Unison, in feature on downpayment assistance for Bay Area homebuyers. Join them next month in New York for FinovateFall.
  • GoBankingRates highlights AutoGravity, M1 Finance, Venmo, Mint in list of best personal finance apps
  • ID.me hires Julie Filion as Chief Marketing Officer.
  • eMoney Advisor moving into Rhode Island offices, expects to hire 100 by 2020.
  • Flywire Offers Summertime Deal for International Tuition Payments with Mastercard.
  • StreetShares adds Heather Tuason as new Chief Product Officer.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • HooYu Brings Identity Confirmation Technology to BCRemit.
  • StreetShares Raises $10.3 Million for “Shark Tank Meets eBay” Approach to P2P Lending.
  • Flywire Expands Operations in Japan, Forms Partnership with Volvo.

Around the web

  • UPS Capital launches cross-border B2B payment service powered by Payoneer.
  • Risk Ident opens new U.S. office at Cambridge Innovation Center, near Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Venmo introduces QR code feature to help users find payee profiles faster.
  • eMoney launches redesigned website with a new UX enhanced navigation and multimedia content.
  • Digiliti Money (formerly Cachet Financial Solutions) appoints interim CEO.
  • Qapital now offers checking account and debit card.
  • BBVA joins Singapore-based trade finance platform Capital and Credit Risk Manager
  • Al Masraf selects Temenos’ digital banking technology
  • Kony announces V8 release of Kony AppPlatform to help developers design, develop and deliver omnichannel apps fast.
  • Shoeboxed launches Fetch, a new expense system
  • Trusona opens new office in Tokyo, Japan.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

First Look: Zelle Takes on Venmo, Square and Itself

Seventeen years ago PayPal took on Wells Fargo’s Billpoint (joint venture with eBay) and Citibank’s (C2IT) fledgling P2P payment services. It wasn’t a fair fight. With a $400 million VC war chest and an all-star exec team (Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, David Sacks, Reid Hoffman and so on), the fight didn’t make it past the first round. Within a year PayPal had a stranglehold on eBay payments due to its superior UX and aggressive business model.

Now the banks are back with Zellea rebranded version of the clearXchange that has been up and running for six years. The service already has great traction. In 2016, Early Warning, the bank-owned operator (see note 1), processed 170 million transfers totaling $55 billion for the 85 million customers of their big-bank owners. That works out to exactly 2 transactions per customer annually with an average of $320 per transfer.

The value transferred is three times the size of Venmo’s $17.6 billion in volume, though the number of Venmo transactions is probably higher, perhaps considerably higher if its average transaction size is in the $15 to $20 range implying 1 billion venmos last year.

Using Zelle
Yesterday and today I used the mobile and desktop Zelle from Capital One for the first time. Other than the glitch with my mobile phone number (see note 3), which would stop many consumers from going further, setup was quick and easy. The desktop version is pretty straightforward, with a Send Money with Zelle link in the middle of the Payments menu (see screenshot below). This assumes you know what Zelle is, or you just ignore it since it comes after the key words, “Send Money.”

But the mobile UI is less intuitive. It wasn’t initially obvious how to use it because there is no Zelle or payments navigation item in the Capital One app…yet (it’s only been out since June 12). However, once you go to your checking account section, it’s one of the main navigation items at the top (see inset below).

 

I was initially surprised at what happened with my test payment. I sent a buck to my son (sorry, Paul I only had $1.12 in my account) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my payment had been “qualified for expedited deposit” and he’d have the cash right away without the usual ACH delay.

But when my son forwarded the email he received, I was surprised to find that my Capital One payment has morphed into a branded Chase QuickPay with Zelle. There was no mention of Capital One anywhere in the message (see screenshot #1).

That makes sense now. My son has a Chase account and was already registered with Chase QuickPay. If he’d not already been registered, he would have received a Capital One branded email (see screenshot #2 below).

Why the new brand?
Zelle/clearXchange will continue to grow at a good clip if its big-bank owners stick with it. It’s already 3x the size of media darling Venmo (owned by PayPal). But I’m not sure the massive investment in creating a new payments brand is worthwhile (cut to the boardroom discussion of a 2018 Super Bowl ad).

I get that they are trying to create another Visa/Mastercard network that consumers recognize and trust. But unlike credit transactions at the POS in the 1950s and 60s, p2p payments are relatively understood by consumers and have much less need of a third-party organization to achieve the network effects. The big banks are already wired to each other and what’s needed, what clearXchange was already offering, is just a simpler UX inside each bank’s online and mobile application. Adding the Zelle name to the mix seems like a step backwards on that front.

Maybe I’m wrong and we’ll all be Zelling money to Mars in a few decades. But I’m not convinced the new brand will stand the test of time.

Bottom line: Love the service, which I expect to flourish, but confused by the branding.


#1: Email to a pre-registered Zelle recipient banking at Chase

 

#2 Email to a Zelle recipient not registered with a participating bank


Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 


Notes:

  1. Owners of Early Warning (aka Zelle) are: Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.
  2. If I were any bank other than BofA and Capital One, I’d be crying foul over how the banks are listed in alphabetic order. On the desktop, it doesn’t matter (yet) since they are all above the fold. But on mobile, you can only see BofA and Capital One, and there is no indicator that you should scroll for more.
  3. I received a fatal error message when I tried to use my mobile number as contact to send Zelle payments (see inset) from Capital One’s mobile app. This could be something particular to my account, but from the cryptic popup message, it sounds like my phone is registered at another bank. And that would be a big concern for most customers who would fear that identity thieves are hard at work draining their accounts.
  4. Image credit

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com:

  • Build Intelligent Apps at Enterprise Scale with Ayasdi Envision.
  • PayPal’s Venmo Goes Head-to-Head with Zelle, Square Cash, and… Amazon

Around the web

  • EverSafe earns spot among the winners of Centre for Financial Services’ Financial Solutions Lab competition.
  • FIS introduces test solution to help FIs embrace real-time payments.
  • iovation to integrate its device-based authentication technology with PingFederate from Ping Identity.
  • BBVA taps into biometrics with new firm Veridas.
  • Expensify integrates with FinancialForce Accounting and PSA.
  • Rabobank selects Finastra (the merger of Misys and D+H) payment services hub for cross-border payments.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Check out this week’s FinDEVr APIntelligence.
  • Robo Advisor Wealthfront Launches Line of Credit to Make Users More Liquid.
  • Our latest FinovateSpring Sneak Peeks are up! Meet Unison, Hedgeable AI Lab, AccountScore, SynapsePay, and HEDG.

On FinDEVr.com

  • Xero Sees $26.4 Million Investment

Around the web

  • Money management app, TD MySpend from TD Bank, closes in on one million users.
  • mBank launches mobile app with Android Pay.
  • ACI Worldwide broadens its relationship with Ant Financial Services mobile payment provider, Alipay.
  • PYMNTS reportsTransferWise To Move Headquarters Out Of UK Due To Brexit.
  • NICE Actimize Launches ActimizeWatch, a Fraud Analytics Optimization Solution.
  • Fiserv to power core processing for SouthEast bank.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.