Emerging Trend: Turn Purchases into Conversations

With Facebook and Twitter integrating payments into their mainstream services, the time has come to leverage social media in the payments and commerce space. With the typical social-media user habitually sharing day-to-day activities, it’s natural for users to share payments on social platforms. Let’s have a look at two companies that are making an impact in the realm of payments and social-media sharing.


Venmo might be the next big thing in mobile commerce. Venmo, owned by PayPal, is an influential mobile commerce application. It was launched less than two years ago and has reached transaction volumes similar to Starbucks’ own mobile commerce application. Venmo has managed to win favor with consumers because of its convenient nature and its peer-to-peer, social features.

Venmo enables consumers to make and share payments with their friends for utilities, rent, dinner, movies, drinks, coffee, tickets, birthdays, etc., through their smartphones:

  • The service is used to share payment data on a social platform in a similar manner to how people share photos and news on Twitter.
  • If a user wants to pay back a friend for dinner, he opens the Venmo app, selects the appropriate contact from his friends list, adds the dollar amount and sends.
  • Before the transaction is completed, Venmo prompts the user to ask what the payment is for – Users could write Dinner at Domino’s or Coffee at Starbucks.
  • These annotations are public by default. They are visible to those involved in the transaction as well as the user’s friends on Venmo.

In October 2013, the company began offering Venmo Touch to merchants and consumers in the UK. Venmo Touch enables users to store credit/debit information and payment details on a single app. It enables checkout across Venmo’s network of apps in one touch. HotelTonight, Drivr, LivingSocial, Bizzby, YPlan, TaskRabbit, Wrapp, Belly and Simple are some of the apps to have adopted Venmo. The businesses provide convenience to their customers, and for that Venmo charges the companies a 2.9% transaction fee.

Venmo’s business model, which integrates payments with social media, sets it apart from competitors in the e-payment market. People like to share everything, and the more they share on Venmo, the more reward points they accumulate. Charging no fees to receive money or make payments from debit cards or bank transfers also gives Venmo an advantage.


Swipely users can associate their credit cards with their Swipely accounts and can swipe at participating local merchants to earn cash-back rewards, loyalty points and extra incentives for sharing reviews on social networks. Users have the option of sending email receipts to Swipely’s database, a process that helps in matching transaction codes to physical locations. Users can then broadcast all the purchases or pick some specific purchases to show on Swipely, Twitter or Facebook. As on sites such as Yelp and Amazon, users can also search for all the comments on particular stores and items.

Customers gather points based on the amount they spend or the number of times they visit a store, and they can earn additional rewards for promoting their favorite stores through their social-media accounts. When customers hit their point targets, they earn cash-back rewards that are automatically deposited into their accounts by Swipely.

Swipely’s selling point is that it helps merchants better understand their customers. Swipely synchs with merchant’s social accounts so that owners can see how online reviews on social-media platforms such as Facebook can affect the business. Swipely requires customers to give merchants their name and e-mail. With this extra data the dashboards add in marketing data, such as responses to e-mail or coupon offers. According to Forbes, annual transaction amounts through Swipely have increased to $500 Mn, from $250 Mn within the annual span of 2012. According to TechCrunch, Swipely is growing at a rate of about 15 locations per month, with $730 Mn in total transactions for 2013.

Would you like to share your payment transaction info on social networks? Pay bill for a restaurant and post to your friend network?