Venmo’s the New Card on the Block

Payment platforms, no matter how flashy or cool, just don’t seem real until they have a plastic card attached.

Witness Venmo, which has begun offering select users the chance to test a physical card, according to a report from TechCrunch yesterday. The company has apparently been testing cards internally since early summer. Users will presumably be able to customize their cards in some way, as they can with Square Cash cards.

The cards are Visa debit cards, issued by Metropolitan Commercial Bank using sfotware from Shift Financial.

Why does Venmo want to offer a card? Because it can. Users can spend their Venmo balance at the store and Venmo can earn interchange fees on transactions. Is this a steppingstone to a wider range of financial services offerings from Venmo and parent company PayPal? Venmo has a lot of untapped equity in its brand, but has been judicious in spending it.

PayPal has had a card for many years. PayPal, then part of eBay, bought Braintree for $800 million in 2013. Braintree purchased Venmo for $26 million a year prior to being acquired itself.

Read more at TechCrunch, Recode, and Engadget.

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