Venmo is an app that lets users send money to other users for free. Venmo is growing in popularity because people love how quick and easy it is to use. My project team designed a new, brand-strengthening feature that allows
users to send money through the app to
causes that they care about.
The Rise of Venmo
For the uninitiated, Venmo is an app to make person-to-person payments. The company was started in 2009 by two college friends, and is now owned by PayPal.
The app has become popular with millennials, particularly college students. Venmo does not advertise. Instead, its growth has been network-based. People start using the app because their friends have it and are using it to pay each other. It’s a quick and effective way to split a check, pay back a friend who picked up something for you at the grocery store, or give your roommate the rent.
One feature that sets Venmo apart from other mobile payment apps is its social component. The app contains a newsfeed that lists friends’ payments, and users can send each other payment requests. Both the payments and the payment requests can be sent with comments, and many people use the comments as funny reminders. Instead of bugging your friend to pay you back for dinner, you can send him a Venmo request for “Drunk Pizza.” Venmo has found a way to make financial transactions social.
Expanding into Charitable Donations
Venmo is quick and easy, and people are getting used to these types of quick, cashless payments. The mobile payment space is growing and becoming more crowded with more competition. Venmo has an opportunity to use what they do best in order to have a social impact. Expanding into charitable donations will allow Venmo to make a difference while strengthening its brand image.
Understanding How People Make Donations
The team sent out surveys, conducted in-person interviews, and did some background research.
92% of respondents had previously donated to a charitable organization.
Most people donate to causes with a personal connection, often through the request of or for a friend.
The main challenge reported in making donations is that the process is too long and too complicated.
We also spoke with GoodWorld, a newly-launched startup that uses social media to encourage giving. They explained that many non-profits lose people at the check-out process, and also do not know how to navigate the social media space effectively.
From our research, we determined that there are 3 different types of people who would use Venmo Give.
Venmo’s main points of difference — its streamlined pay process and social component — are a great fit for addressing the ways in which people donate to charitable causes and the roadblocks they face along the way.
Sketching & Ideation
Adding New Features While Preserving the Venmo Brand
At this point, the team had a good grasp on who the users would be, but we still needed to figure out the actual design and flow of the Venmo Give feature. We knew that we wanted to keep the same simple and streamlined functionality that customers have come to expect from Venmo, as well as leverage the social component of the app.
Solidifying the User Flow
The Venmo newsfeed now includes donations. Customers who are scrolling their newsfeed will see when their friends have given to causes, and hopefully be inspired to give as well.
Customers can also link directly to the Venmo Give section of the app, where they can view all of the charitable organizations that are partnered with Venmo.
In addition, customers can link to Venmo Give directly from the charity organization’s website.
Our team only had 10 days to complete this project, and while I was very pleased with the results, we were squeezed by the time constraints. We did not have enough time to properly test our prototype. In retrospect, we could have done more paper prototyping at the beginning in order to test a bit earlier in the process. But overall, I am happy with the new app feature and would love the opportunity to get to present it to Venmo in the future.