Venmo, the mobile payment app, has had a wild few years. They shook up their industry so hard that they were acquired twice within 4 years of launch; once by Braintree for $26.2M, and again when Paypal acquired Braintree for $800M.
Their trick? Make paying your friends easy and (mostly) free. Today, they’re making it even easier: you don’t even have to be friends with the person you’re paying, anymore. Just stand near them.
As it stood before, you could only pay other Venmo users if they were your “friend” on the service — a process which, though pretty quick, still required a bit of manual setup. You had to know their name, email, or phone number, for example.
As of today, you don’t need to know a damned thing about the person to pay them (that is, as long as they’re on Venmo, too.)
With the introduction of a new (aptly-named) Venmo Nearby feature, you just open the app, swipe to the left, and find your new friend amongst the list of Venmo users within a few dozen feet. Venmo says it’s finding other users over both Bluetooth and WiFi, calling on the same tech that powers Apple’s nascent iBeacon system (alas, that means the feature is iOS 7-only, for now. Sorry, Android users.)
Need to pay back your friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who was cool enough to put down his card for the bar tab, but can’t remember his name? Just swipe open the Nearby drawer, tap his face, and send a few bucks his way.
And if you don’t want random nearby weirdos to be able to throw cash your way? You can, of course, disable the proximity features.