Mobile

Venmo’s Mega Bank/Biometric Platform Upgrade

Mobile payments app Venmo will now let iPhone users sign into its P2P payments service using Apple’s Touch ID feature, and has also simplified signing up for the customers of four large U.S. banks with an app update that rolled out this week.

Mobile payments app Venmo will now let iPhone users sign into its P2P payments service using Apple’s Touch ID feature and has simplified signing up for customers of four large U.S. banks, VentureBeat reported.

Thanks to an app update that rolled out this week, users can now sign into Venmo by using Apple’s fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S, 6 and 6 Plus, the company announced on Monday (Nov. 17). PIN protection is also still available for all iPhone and Android Venmo users, but fingerprint scanning on Android phones that have it, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, isn’t supported.

The new version of Venmo also streamlines the onboarding process for customers of Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citibank. Instead of keying in the bank routing number and account number from the face of a check, customers of those banks who are also signed up for online banking can use their online banking user name and password.

PayPay-owned Venmo says the new bank-linking process will be simpler for new users — they’ll deal with a single login page, instead of the previous process, which took several steps and also required a user to have a checkbook nearby. The company also said it doesn’t store the mobile-banking login credentials on its servers, but only passes it along to the banks for authentication purposes.

The new process should make the one-time signup process easier for new Venmo users, but whether it will actually improve security for the Venmo app is an open question. While the routing number/account number system is widely used for ACH-based payments, banks don’t use those numbers for authentication, since they’re printed on the face of every check. But in the unlikely event that a cyberthief managed to capture banking login credentials while a new bank is being added to a Venmo account, the thief would have full access to the user’s bank account.

In addition to security and signup simplification, Venmo is also upgrading some of its social functions. A new tagging feature called “Mentions” lets users add Twitter-style references to other Venmo users by putting an “@” sign in front of the other user’s name.

New York-based Venmo said it processed $700 million in what it calls “social payments” in Q3, up 50 percent from the previous quarter, according to Fast Company. However, the company hasn’t announced the number of active users or the actual number of transactions it processes.

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