Venmo is a peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile app that allows people to transfer funds between each other at no cost.
The company, which is headquartered in New York City, was founded in 2009 by Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail.
Venmo, apart from allowing you to instantly send money to other account holders, also offers a branded debit and credit card, the ability to earn cashback, and even purchase crypto.
What sets Venmo apart from many of the other payment apps that came before it is its social aspect. Users can communicate within the app and accompany their payments with emojis, GIFs, and more.
They can, furthermore, pay other businesses that choose to accept Venmo payments for their goods and services.
Venmo makes money via payment fees, interchange and ATM withdrawal fees, spreads as well as payment fees on crypto transactions, and more.
The company, just months after its launch back in March 2012, was acquired by Stripe predecessor Braintree for $26.2 million. A year later, Braintree itself was scooped up by PayPal for $800 million in cash. The payment giant continues to run Venmo to this date.
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman has stated that Venmo is projected to have generated $900 million in revenue for 2021.
That same year, Venmo’s total payment volume was equal to $230 billion. More than 83 million people are currently registered on Venmo.
The methodology with which competitors of Venmo are ranked is based on publicly available information. Data points such as revenue, (annual) payment volumes, the number of users, and anything else in between will be considered.
Only competitors from the United States will be taken into account since this is the only country Venmo operates in.
Also, we won’t take a look at indirect competitors, such as cryptocurrency exchanges or merchant payment solutions (e.g., Stripe), and thereby mostly consider platforms known for facilitating P2P payments.
It has to be noted that this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of either service. It is merely a summary of the competition that Venmo faces as of today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 7 competitors of Venmo.
Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona Founder(s): Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo Year Founded: 2016
Zelle is not only Venmo’s biggest competitor but managed to surpass it within just two years of launching. In fact, it was launched by some of America’s biggest banks in an effort to contain Venmo’s ever-growing adoption.
Users, much like on Venmo, can send each other money free of charge. Zelle partners with 1,000+ financial institutions as well as Mastercard and Visa to offer its payment services.
Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo sold Zelle to Early Warning Services, which itself is owned by a consortium of banks, back in 2016. Previously, the three banks struggled to coordinate with each other, which repeatedly delayed the launch. Zelle was ultimately unveiled in September 2017.
In 2021, Zelle processed 1.8 billion payments worth $490 billion, which represented an increase of 49 percent from the prior year. It doesn’t disclose current user numbers, though.
However, Zelle isn’t nearly as much of a moneymaker as Venmo. In fact, Zelle does currently not make any money from the app itself. Instead, Early Warning Services is likely being compensated by the various banks for maintaining the service.
2. Cash App
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Block (formerly Square) Year Founded: 2013
The Cash App, which was created by Block Inc. (formerly Square Inc.), is another P2P payment app with which users can send money free of charge.
Apart from being able to pay some instantly, it also offers the ability to get paid faster, purchase and sell crypto, invest in a variety of stocks (commission-free), file one’s taxes, and use a company-branded debit card.
Square, which has been founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, launched the app to compete with the likes of Venmo and PayPal. At the time, Square was offering payment technology to merchants and saw the Cash App as an extension of that network.
In 2021, the Cash App generated $12.32 billion in revenue and $2.07 billion in gross profit. The app boasts 44 million active users of which 13 million are subscribed to the debit card. Block does currently not disclose annual payment volumes.
3. Apple Pay
Headquarters: Cupertino, California Founder(s): Apple Year Founded: 2014
Whenever the world’s biggest phone manufacturer is involved in P2P payments, you can almost automatically assume that it quickly rises to become one of the biggest players in that industry.
Apple Pay was announced in September 2014 and rolled out to the firm’s 200 million iPhone owners throughout 2015. Four years later, Apple also unveiled a company-branded credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Recently, it unveiled a BNPL product to allow customers to pay in multiple installments.
Apart from being able to pay merchants (85 percent of all U.S. merchants accept Apple Pay), Apple Pay also enables users to send to friends and family via Apple Cash (which is only available in the United States).
Additionally, Apple enables its users to purchase cryptocurrencies via services like Crypto.com or earn cashback rewards.
Over 500 million people have now activated Apple Pay on their iPhones and smartwatch. Close to 50 million of those can be attributed to the United States.
With regards to merchant payments, Apple Pay now has a market share of 43.9 percent in the United States.
Headquarters: San Jose, California Founder(s): Elon Musk, Ken Howery, Luke Nosek, Mallikarjun Yagnavajulla, Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Rod D. Martin, Senthil Udayasooriyan Year Founded: 1998
PayPal is the de-facto pioneer in online payments and revolutionized modern commerce as it stands. Much has been said about the firm’s illustrious history, which involved a merger with Elon Musk’s X.com, being acquired by eBay in 2002 (leading to the creation of the so-called PayPal Mafia), and the company being spun out of eBay in 2015. We did an extensive piece about PayPal’s business model and its history, which you can read in the linked article.
PayPal is primarily used to pay for goods and services online. Over 30 million merchants are now part of its platform and receive payments from its 429 million active accounts.
Apart from paying merchants, PayPal is also known for allowing users to send money to friends and family at no cost. However, fees are being charged if you send money to a foreign bank account and between two different currencies.
In 2021, PayPal generated revenues of $25.3 billion. A total of 19.3 billion transactions were conducted over that time span, totaling $1.25 trillion (!) in payment volume.
While PayPal is primarily known for facilitating online payments, it also offers a variety of other products. These include BNPL payment options, a branded debit card with which users can earn rewards, or donate to a charity they like, among many other features.
5. Google Pay
Headquarters: Mountain View, California Founder(s): Google Year Founded: 2015
Originally dubbed Android Pay, Google released its own payment app at its Google I/O conference back in 2015. Three years later, it merged Android Pay and Google Wallet (launched in 2011) to create Google Pay.
Users on Google Pay can send money to each other as well as other businesses, pay bills, earn cashback rewards, and improve their financial health via its detailed reports.
The Google Pay app has been downloaded over 500 million times, with the majority of downloads being attributed to Android devices.
Google, unfortunately, remains fairly secretive about the usage of its payment app. This can largely be attributed to the firm’s ongoing legal battles during which it is being accused of monopolistic practices, among others.
The last time it published data was back in 2019. The service, back then, had enabled 2.5 billion transactions and was on track to reach $110 billion in transaction value in annual transaction volume. Those numbers have probably increased substantially ever since.
Furthermore, estimates project that Google Pay is currently being used by 27.1 million people in the United States.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Chris Britt, Ryan King Year Founded: 2013
Chime is a neobank that utilizes technology to serve customers. As such, it doesn’t operate any physical branches. Its bank account comes with a variety of features including overdraft protections, free ATM withdrawals, the ability to get paid earlier, and a company-branded debit card, among others.
Users can, furthermore, send each other money instantly via the firm’s Pay Anyone feature. Each user receives a $ChimeSign, which is a unique ID that acts as a username. Chime, much like the other services on this list, is only available in the United States.
With over 12 million users, Chime is widely considered to be the most popular neobank in the United States. The firm is currently valued at $25 billion, which has been made possible by the $2.3 billion it raised in venture funding.
In 2021, Chime allegedly generated around $1 billion in revenue. However, the firm recently had to postpone its IPO plans due to unfavorable market conditions.
7. Samsung Pay
Headquarters: Suwon-si, South Korea Founder(s): Samsung Electronics Year Founded: 2015
Samsung is the last tech giant on this list trying to carve out a niche for itself in the (P2P) payment industry. In February 2015, it acquired FinTech startup LoopPay for $250 million and used the technology to launch Samsung Pay months later.
The service, which is currently only available on Android devices, offers the ability to pay users and merchants, earn cashback rewards, a branded debit card (in partnership with SoFi), purchase train tickets or crypto, and even allows people to add their vaccine records.
Samsung Pay only trails Apple and Google when it comes to digital wallet users. It currently has close to 17 million members in the United States alone. However, most of its users are likely located in Asian countries.
The global mobile payments market is projected to reach $11.83 trillion by 2028. Naturally, there are a plethora of other services that try to carve out a bigger slice of the industry’s pie.
Apple, Google, and Samsung are, for example, not the only tech giants who try to leverage their popularity to break into the payments industry.
Meta (formerly Facebook), in June 2022, rebranded from Facebook Pay into Meta Pay. The service is trying to provide a digital wallet for all kinds of transactions conducted in the metaverse.
Additionally, users can send each other money via Facebook or Instagram Messenger, among other features.
Other FinTech apps in the United States also allow users to send each other money without being charged. Examples include neobanks like Mark Cuban’s Dave, Current, Acorns, Revolut, and many others.
Technically, traditional banks compete with P2P payment apps as well. Some, such as Chase Pay, even offer instant transfers between their users.
In fact, almost all of the above-highlighted P2P payment apps do require a traditional bank account to be connected to.
Additionally, all banks offer basic account protections such as FDIC insurance (important in case of bankruptcies) as well as the ability to issue chargebacks.
Users of P2P payment platforms such as Venmo or Zelle have been subject to many scams in the past where they ultimately lost their money and don’t have any option to recover those funds.