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Keeping the Venmo Community Secure

· by Venmo Leadership

There has been recent discussion around specific keywords associated with payments within Venmo that have caused us to pause the transaction and review. We understand the frustration this may cause, and it’s important to us to take the time to address your concerns.

Since our earliest start-up days, our goal has consistently been to help people send and receive money to and from those they trust in a secure and easy way. We’re also committed to ensuring that Venmo’s products and services are not used in violation of U.S. economic or trade sanctions. To that end, we’ve implemented specific policies to ensure that we are moving money from person-to-person in a way that complies with government regulations.

Venmo, like all U.S. persons, including other U.S. financial institutions, is required to screen activity and flag any payments that may violate U.S. trade sanctions and/or involve certain foreign countries (comprehensive country-based sanctions) and governments, regimes, corporations, organizations and individuals (selective targeted sanctions) on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). For more information on OFAC, we encourage you to visit the OFAC FAQs section on the U.S. Treasury website at www.treasury.gov/ofac.

While in most cases, the review will not have any impact on your payment transaction, we realize that this hasn’t been an easy process for some of our users. We would like to assure you that we are continuously working to improve our algorithms and speed up our review time. It’s our obligation to comply with government regulations, but also to ensure this is a smooth process for all our users. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience as our teams work hard to get this up to the service level that you deserve.

To help you understand the process, we’ve cut through the jargon, and have worked to provide you with the details in a simple and straightforward way. Check out our quick Q&A below:

What’s OFAC?
OFAC is an office of the U.S. Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against certain foreign countries, targeted individuals and entities. In its simplest terms, OFAC helps protect our national safety, economy and security.

How will this affect my payments?
If your note appears to be in potential violation of any OFAC regulation, we are required by federal law to review your payment until we verify that it isn’t a true violation. Once we determine that it isn’t a true violation, then your payment will be processed as usual.

When will I know what happened with my payment?
We will review your payment to determine whether it is in potential violation of any OFAC regulation, and will contact you on the status of your payment within 72 hours or less. If we have further questions before we can approve the payment, or determine we cannot process the payment, we will contact you via email. We understand that this may cause an additional delay, and apologize for any inconvenience.

I received an email saying someone's payment to me is "In Review." Why?
Your friend may have mentioned a restricted good or entity in their payment, or their/your account is pending further identity verification. Please note that we must review the payment and determine whether it is a true violation before we can transfer the funds. If, during our review, we determine that this is a true violation, we must block or reject the transaction (depending on which OFAC regulation is impacted).

I tried to approve a charge/request and then my payment was put in review. Why?
The note in the request may have mentioned a restricted good or entity, or their/your account is pending further identity verification. We screen requests at the time you approve them and the funds are transferred, not when the requester sends the request for funds to you.

Have more questions? Please feel free to reach out to Support@Venmo.com or via our in-app live chat, where our Support team representatives will be on standby to assist.

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$1 Billion Served

· by Michael Vaughan, Venmo GM

For the first time in our history, in the month of January, over $1 billion in payments were made on Venmo. That's over two-and-half times what we saw in January 2015, and more than 10x our volume in January 2014. We thought this was a pretty big milestone so we wanted to share it with you.

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Now, pay in your favorite apps with Venmo

· by Michael Vaughan, Venmo GM

A while back, we realized that the magic of Venmo shouldn’t be limited just to payments with your friends. What if we could make that same Venmo experience possible when our users pay for things inside their favorite mobile apps? Today, we are taking our first step toward that new reality.

Read More →

Venmo Pitches in with Friends of Rockaway

· by Katie Mulligan, People Team

The team at Venmo recently had the humbling opportunity to volunteer with Friends of Rockaway, a non-profit dedicated to rebuilding homes for displaced Hurricane Sandy survivors. We put in a hard day’s work, but this time around it was with power drills and paint rollers instead of laptops and headphones.

Friends of Rockaway has helped rebuild over 122 homes since Hurricane Sandy devastated the area three years ago, and has cleaned out and repaired over 600 more. We were invited to help out on Mrs. Stevens’ home. Site managers Sarah and Emily explained to us that Mrs. Steven’s entire first floor flooded during the storm, and she had been living on the second story of her house for a few years before the non-profit came in to help her clean out the mold, muck and gut the first floor, and begin renovations.

The Venmo volunteers spent the morning bopping around on ladders, sanding the newly-installed drywall, getting covered in dust, laughing at each other, and rocking out to Sarah’s catchy playlist. After lunch, we took turns sharing some of our favorite Venmo memories while replacing old hardware on the outdoor porch and giving it a good coat of fresh paint. Despite sore muscles, we had a joyful trip home, knowing that we worked hard and made a difference.Thanks to Friends of Rockaway and their amazing volunteers, Mrs. Stevens should be able to occupy the first floor of her home by the end of December. Visit friendsofrockaway.org to learn more about how to help their cause.

Venmo Volunteers.JPG
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Introducing Camellia George (kah-MEEL-ya), Head of Product Development

· by Michael Vaughan, Venmo GM

IMG_1236.JPG

Give us a brief description of what you do here at Venmo. I oversee and guide the three teams that define and design our products: User Research, Product Design and Product Management. Together we synthesize learnings from our Strategy, Operations and Engineering teams, our customers and competitors into new ideas for Venmo. Sometimes these are simple extensions to help make existing parts of Venmo more usable or delightful for our customers. And, sometimes these are ideas for new products or services that don’t exist at all within Venmo.

Our team is responsible for defining the business logic and requirements, designing the user experience, and managing the creation and release of these features and products into the wild.

What do you enjoy most about your current position? I love getting to work every day with a mix of people on the Product team, Engineering teams, and Strategy team at Venmo. I deeply believe that great products are the result of fantastic relationships and the chemistry between people with a shared mission.

But something that's unique to being at Venmo is that this product has been on my personal "bucket list." Seven years ago, as part of Intel Research's Personal Digital Money initiative, I took part in experience definition of intersection of social networks, mobile devices and personal finance. Future-casting for the computing giant was amazing, but ever since I have been looking for an opportunity to put those learnings and vision into real products in the market. I couldn't be more excited to be a part of such an exciting product and team.

How do you spend your free time? What free time? Just kidding. I have a six year old son, so most of my free time these days is spent building Legos—usually various forms of speeder bikes for an extended Star Wars universe—and playing soccer at the park. But when I sneak away for some quiet time by myself I like to read about science (especially epidemiology), watch sci-fi television, and fritter away time on Etsy, which I like to think of as a crowd-sourced 3D printer.

What are you listening to these days? I'm obsessed with Steven A Clark's "Bounty" (you can thank me later) and some other cuts from the same album, I love the HBR Ideacast and Freakonomics podcasts.

Where would you like to go on your dream vacation? I love, love, love Santa Fe, New Mexico, especially in the fall or early spring while it's still chilly at night and crisp during the day. It's my go-to day dream. I'm also really hoping to visit Copenhagen sometime soon!

What would be the title of your autobiography? "The Future is Fabulous" or "For a Short Story, That Sure Went on for a While."

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? As a kid, I was 100% sure I was going to be a pediatrician.

Go-to karaoke song? "Edge of Seventeen" or anything off Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks is my hero, hands down.

If you had a superpower, what would it be and why? Time-freezing. Obviously. So I could get more things done and sneak in a nap.

What's your favorite joke? A: Knock knock. B: Who's there? A: Control freak...Now you say, "Control freak who?"

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A marketing analytics summer internship at Venmo

· by Tom Vladeck, MBA Intern

Me

Hi, my name is Thomas Vladeck. I’m in the middle of getting my MBA from Wharton and this summer I had a marketing analytics summer internship at Venmo. Prior to Wharton I did a variety of things related to climate policy, so although I majored in math a long time ago, this is a bit of a new thing for me. I loved the three classes I took in marketing and market research I took in my first year, and since Wharton is heavily quantitative, I felt ready to take on a new challenge.

Picking my project

My first step was to pick my project. I was hired with the understanding that (a) I’d do some sort of technical market research project and (b) I’d mostly manage myself. During my interview process I put together a process I’d follow for defining the project, performing the analysis, and distributing my findings. My first task was to get acquainted with the team and figure out what everyone wanted to know - and what would be the highest-value projects I could work on.

Eventually we settled on trying to understand what types of people were not getting value out of Venmo and churning out. This would happen in two stages: first, I’d figure out which users were no longer using Venmo, and second, I’d correlate that with other things we could observe about those users to come up with a general finding.

A diversion into product survey data

But first! I got sidetracked. While getting acquainted with the data we stored in various places, I started looking into the surveys we send our users. Like most companies, we keep track of our Net Promoter Score. We also ask a bunch of follow-up questions about how our product is performing, such as “Do you find it easy to find the right person to pay on Venmo?”. I noticed that we were sending three different versions of the survey out, with different sets of questions. Our PMs had a lot of questions, and no good way to sort out which they should be asking.

Ta Da!! I had just learned a tool to do this, and wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste. A tool called factor analysis can help marketers interpret the information they are getting from their surveys, and redesign them to ask fewer questions.

Factor analysis works on the following principle: we can observe only how our users answer the questions we ask them, but we can’t directly observe the “factors” that are important to them. The process uses fancy math to infer what factors are driving different answers to questions.

As it turned out, we were asking a lot of redundant questions; for example, we were asking five questions that began “I feel that it is easy…”. The graphs below are one output of the factor analysis (called a scree plot), and show how much variation in survey responses is accounted for by each factor - and clearly some factors are far more important than others. This meant that we could reduce the number of questions we ask and get the same amount of information.

Based on the factor analysis, we were able to reduce the number of questions we ask from 23 to just 8, and combine our three regular product feedback surveys into just one.

Back to customer analytics

With that little mini-project out of the way, I turned back to the task of thinking about retention and churn at Venmo.  Apps like Venmo have a much tougher time calculating churn than do subscription services like Dropbox or cable TV. In “contractual” settings, you can observe churn directly when people cancel their subscription; by contrast, if someone doesn’t use Venmo for a while, there’s a chance they just haven’t been in the right place or mood and will come back.

I had planned to dive right into this sexy stochastic model that would put a probability on each user being “alive” but I was urged by our GM, Mike Vaughan, to start simpler. The sexy stochastic model would come later.

The first thing he suggested doing was creating a “transition matrix.” Like most every other tech company, we measure our “monthly actives” - the number of users that show up in a given month. But we weren’t measuring how much “turnover” there was in our active user base. Were active users staying active? Were inactive users becoming active and vice versa? There was no way to tell.

 A transition matrix has every user fitting into one of these cells:

This can give more detail on what our retention looks like. Given a monthly active number, more turnover is better, as it means that more users overall are still using Venmo.

With Mike Cohen - my strategy mentor - I wrote some R code that combed through our database to track individual users to fill out this matrix. Sure enough, in addition to high retention, we also had high turnover. Since it was worth keeping track of, I worked with JT Glaze - data engineer impresario - to sketch out the Python code that will ultimately feed into a Looker dashboard for the company to keep track of. 

The sexy stochastic model

With our transition matrix presented to the team, I turned my attention back to the modeling our user base. It turns out that many of the good folks back at Wharton have spent a lot of time thinking about churn rates in a non-contractual setting, and have developed some models and R code to work it out.

The model that seemed to apply best is called the Pareto/NBD model. Roughly speaking, it assumes that every Venmo user, while they’re alive, has a constant probability of using the app on any given day - but those probabilities are different for every user, and they vary according to a prior distribution. Similarly, the model assumes that users have a constant probability of churning out each day, and again, these probabilities are different for each user, and vary according to a prior distribution.

The beauty of this model is that it only needs a few pieces of information for each user (how long they’ve used Venmo, when they last used it, and how frequently they use it), and there is a really useful R package that will do most of the heavy lifting (although we did have to patch some functions).

With tons of data and a state-of-the-art model at our disposal, we plugged and chugged, and… bummer:

As you can see here, the model is substantially underpredicting our holdout data. We scratched our heads, and we ended up finding the culprit: clumpiness! (No, really, that’s the term). It basically means that our users don’t have a constant probability of using the app every day. Some weeks you’re with friends sharing payments left and right, other weeks you’re heads down at the library studying for finals and barely going out.

Can we measure clumpiness? Of course we can! Some more good folks at Wharton have come up with a measure based on the familiar notion of entropy. When we calculated it for our users, we found that a huge number of our users were “clumpy.”

So, basically, our users are binge-users of Venmo. This jibed well with the data that our user base was turning over significantly. It also meant that a critical assumption of the Pareto/NBD model was violated. On the bright side, we learned something new about our users.

Segmentation

With the stochastic modeling route closed off until someone (or we) make inroads into extending customer lifetime value calculations to customers with hidden states (in a way that’s computationally feasible), we turned to segmenting our user base, including clumpiness as a segmenting variable.

You may be wondering, “what is segmentation”? Basically, it’s an attempt to classify your users into different types. You may know of “soccer moms” and “nascar dads” from the political arena. Same thing. For example, some people on Venmo are in college and use it when they go out with their friends; others are older and use it only for rent. We found these archetypal users by using a technique called model-based clustering.

Conclusion

In addition to working in R, I really enjoyed a few other things about this summer. The first is pairing. Venmo has a ton of pairing rooms where you can sit next to a teammate and work off the same computer. My mentor Mike and I spent countless hours working together on problems - sometimes as simple as going through an academic paper or writing an email - and we were at least five times as productive as we would have been individually.

The other thing I really enjoyed about Venmo are demo days. Every other Friday the various Product, Engineering, and Design teams will demo what they’ve been working on. Over the summer I demoed a few times. At first I was a bit hesitant that people would be interested in this quant-heavy marketing stuff, but was very pleasantly surprised to find people really enjoyed it.

Finally, Venmo was just a plain fun place to work at. I mean, I was so into playing dodgeball that I basically threw my arm out:

I had such a great summer that I even wrangled my way into continuing to work on projects during the school year! Although I’ll miss being in the office everyday, I’m excited that I’ll get the opportunity to continue scratching my statistical-modeling itches. 

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Python linting at Venmo

· by Simon Weber, Platform Engineer

Quick! What’s wrong with this (contrived) Python 2 code?

import sys

class NotFoundError(Exception):
   pass

def enforce_presence(key, entries):
   """Raise NotFoundError if key is not in entries."""

   for entry in entries:
       if entry == key:
           break
   else:
       NotFoundError

If you said the unused import and missing raise keyword, you’re right! But, if you took longer than a quarter of a second to answer, sorry: you were outperformed by my linting tools.

Don’t feel bad! Linting is designed to detect these problems more quickly and consistently than a human. There are two ways to make use of it: manually or automatically. The former is flexible but not robust, while the latter risks getting in the way. We lint automatically at Venmo; here’s how we strike a balance between flexibility and enforcement.

We use a collection of linting tools. Currently we use flake8, pylint and a custom internal tool. They each address different needs: flake8 quickly catches simple errors (like the unused import), pylint slowly catches complex errors (like the missing raise), and our internal tool catches errors that are only relevant to Venmo. For easy use from the shell, we combine their output with git-lint and a short script. This setup catches a wide variety of errors and can easily accommodate new linters. Here’s what it looks like when run on the code from this post:

$ ./lint example.py
Linting file: example.py FAILURE
line 1, col 1: [F401]: 'sys' imported but unused
line 15, col 8: Warning: [W0104]: Statement seems to have no effect

Linting happens in three places during our workflow: in-editor, pre-commit, and during builds. The first step varies for each of us since we don’t all use the same editor (though vim with syntastic is a common choice). This is the step with the fastest feedback loop: if you don’t currently use linting, start with this.

The second step is implemented with a git pre-commit hook. It lints all the files about to be committed and aborts the commit if there are problems. Sometimes we opt out of this check - maybe we know about the problems and plan to address them later - by using git’s built in --no-verify flag.

Finally, any errors that survive to a pull request will be caught during build linting on Jenkins. It’s similar to the pre-commit check, but runs on all files that have been changed in the feature branch. However, unlike the pre-commit check, our build script uses GitHub Enterprise’s comparison api to find these files. This eliminates the need to download the repository’s history, allowing us to save bandwidth and disk space with a git shallow clone.

No matter when linting is run, we always operate it at the granularity of an entire file. This is necessary to catch problems such as unused imports or dead code; these aren’t localized to only modified lines. It also means that any file that’s been touched recently is free of problems, so it’s rare that we need to fix problems unrelated to our changes.

All of our configuration is checked into git, pinning our desired checks to a specific version of the codebase. Checks that we want to enable are whitelisted, allowing us to safely update our linters without worrying about accidentally enabling new, unwanted checks.

When enabling a new check, we also fix any existing violations. This avoids chilling effects: we don’t want to discourage small changes through fear of cleaning up lots of linting violations. It also incentivizes automated fixes, which saves engineering time compared to distributed manual editing.

Hopefully, sharing our linting workflow helps save you some time as well!

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Group accounts on Venmo launched in beta

· by Lili Jiang, Product Manager

Venmo’s mission has always been to connect the world and empower people through payments. And today, we’re excited to announce that we are taking another step towards reaching that goal. We’re launching the beta for groups, a new feature that lets Venmo users create an account for their group or club.

No more lost checks, complicated spreadsheets, or delayed transactions. We’re bringing the magic of Venmo to group payments.

You can now easily make an account for your group to use for anything from paying dues, to issuing reimbursements, to collecting money for an event. Group accounts offer all the Venmo features you know and love, plus the ability to add managers to help administer the group.

If you’re interested in opening an account for your group, sign up at groups.venmo.com!

Feel free to share the news! And if you’re interested in being involved in a focus group or have ideas for the product, please email groupaccounts@venmo.com.

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Expanding Venmo Support

· by Tim Bakeris, Head of Support

Here at Venmo we have heard you loud and clear - we know you've been looking for a faster response from our support team, and we are excited to share that we’ve been hard at work building a team worthy of our incredible community.

Today, we are thrilled to announce three new support upgrades that will help get you the support you need, when you need it.

Live Chat

With the launch of in-app live chat you can now have a conversation with us right in the app. If you happen to leave the app while chatting with us, we’ll send you a push notification once we’ve responded (for this to work, make sure you have enabled Push Notifications on your phone). Our goal with live chat is to provide you with timely, effective support. The support team is really looking forward to being able to communicate with you in real time.

If you have questions and want to chat with us now, here’s how:

Step 1: Open the drawer by swiping right or tapping the three horizontal lines in the upper lefthand corner, then choose ‘Help Center’".

Step 2: Select the topic that most closely resembles your problem.

Step 3: Select the Help article that is most closely related to your problem. If it doesn’t help, just tap “Contact Us."

Step 4: Our support agents will be with you as quickly as we can. Chatting with us feels like texting a friend! Just make sure you have Push Notifications enabled on your device.

Upgraded In-App Search

Our in-app Help Center has been upgraded with native, searchable FAQs and help articles. Now you can find relevant help articles just by searching with a few words. For example, looking for information on how to move money to your bank? Type “transfer” and you’ll be shown all of the relevant information, instantly. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Just start a conversation with one of our agents right from the article you’re reading.

24/7 Support Coverage

Over the past few months we’ve tripled the size of our support team and have expanded our hours of coverage to 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. On the weekends we have people available from 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CDT). We anticipate full 24/7 availability by the end of 2015.

There is still a lot of work to do and we are very excited to continue improving upon the foundation we’ve built. We are fully committed to building the support team that you deserve. Thank you for being patient with us as we grow our team quickly to keep up with our fast-growing community!

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Hack Week at Venmo

· by Katie Mulligan, People Team

A company-wide hackathon is a great opportunity for folks to team up with people from different departments and tackle a project that isn’t currently on the roadmap. And, working with new team members on interesting projects cultivates creativity and innovation. At Venmo, Hack Week also means bringing remote employees to our NYC headquarters, peppering the week with activities that encourage cross-team socialization, and making sure to end on a high note– our annual summer party. The result was an incredibly fun week that left us reeling with Venmo pride.

Since everyone was diligently hacking away on ambitious projects, we made sure to sneak in a couple breaks. One afternoon, we pushed our cafeteria tables aside for a fun and re-energizing Michael Jackson dance class. We also offered relaxing meditation sessions every day and a chance for individual teams to go out to dinner together. The most popular activity was Venmo’s first ever “Lunch Roulette.” We split everyone into groups varied by team and office location, and sent them out to lunch together. Lunch Roulette successfully got folks out of the office and sharing a meal with people they don’t necessarily interact with day to day.

At the end of the week, the entire company got together to watch the presentations from our fourteen different Hack Week teams. Among the winners, a group who designed an internal Bot that allows our team to give each other positive feedback via Venmo payments, and a proposed feature that would send your friends a musical greeting through Venmo on their birthdays. The coveted People’s Choice prize went to a group that choreographed a lip dub video around the Venmo office.

The best part of Hack Week was that we got to take all that positivity and inspiration with us to a huge Venmo summer celebration at the end of the week. We boarded a boat for a dinner cruise on the Hudson River, followed by a full evening of dancing and karaoke. Venmo parties are always a blast, but we were celebrating so much more this time around– the amazingly talented group of people that we’re so lucky to come to work with everyday.

Interested in being part of the Venmo crew? Check out our jobs page.

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Two Cents: Episode Two

· by Terri Burns, Developer Evangelist Intern

Welcome to the second episode of Two Cents: NYC... Minus the Smell.

Listen in to hear about what projects Venmo interns are working on, hackathon prep, and Terri and Cassidy's two cents on imposter syndrome. We hope you enjoy!

And if you're just tuning in, Two Cents is a podcast series which follows the intership of Terri Burns, a Venmo developer evangelist intern, and Cassidy Williams, a full-time Venmo software engineer and developer evangelist. If you missed the first episode, Get Gif-y With It, listen here.

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New Blog Updates!

· by Terri Burns, Developer Evangelist Intern

We're excited to announce some fantastic updates to our blog!

We’ve made it easier to get around the blog with updates to the navigation bar. Now you can view posts by topic: Engineering, Feature Announcements, and Life at Venmo.

Additionally, our subscribe feature will allow you to sign up to receive email updates (which will come at most once a week) letting you know about new blog posts. And, you can also enjoy our archive of posts over the years, or search for a specific post you read in the past.

As always, feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or via some of our social channels to tell us more about what you'd like to read about in future posts!

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Two Cents: A Venmo Podcast

· by Terri Burns, Developer Evangelist Intern

Welcome to Two Cents.

This summer podcast series will be following the internship of Terri Burns, a developer evangelist intern, and Cassidy Williams, a full-time software engineer and developer evangelist here at Venmo. Stay tuned to hear more about what it's like to work at Venmo, the current state of NYC's technology scene, and hear Terri and Cassidy's two cents on on a given topic in tech and in life each episode. It's a beautiful marriage of payments and podcasts. Catch the first episode, Get Gif-y With It, below:

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Venmo Paints the Town

· by Katie Mulligan, People Team

A few weeks ago, we sent some Venmo volunteers to help local artist Ellie Balk and the students at Brooklyn’s Green School finish up their annual mural. This isn’t just any old neighborhood beautification project: every year Ellie works together with the staff and students to design a mural based on the school’s math curriculum. This year’s project, Visualize Pi: Perspective, uses blocks of varying height and color to represent Pi.

Visualize Pi is an extraordinary program for Green School. It allows students to understand complex math concepts through design and feel ownership over a project that adds value to their neighborhood.

The Venmo volunteers jumped in towards the end of the painting week to help with some straight lines, ladder climbing, and detail work. We had a blast rolling up our sleeves, getting paint on our faces, and spending time outside in the sun. When we were painting with Ellie and the students, we really felt like we were making a direct impact in the community. People kept walking by to chat with us and thank us for adding a colorful flair to the neighborhood. It was an incredible feeling to step back at the end of the day and check out the beautiful result of everyone’s hard work.

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Coming Soon: Use your Fingerprint to unlock your Venmo App

· by Tiem Song, Android Engineer

Today, at Google I/O, Google unveiled Android M Developer Preview, which will include new fingerprint capability for Android devices when M rolls out, and we’ve integrated this new capability into the Venmo app.

Soon, consumers using Venmo on their Android device with a fingerprint sensor will be able to unlock their password protected Venmo app with their fingerprint instead of a PIN.

We’re always looking for ways to make Venmo simple and delightful to use, while keeping our high standards of security. Enabling fingerprint authentication on supported Android devices lets us maintain our security standards, yet reduce the friction of entering a PIN.

We’ll be rolling out the new Android-enabled fingerprint technology in the Venmo app later this year. Stay tuned to try it out!

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Introducing Emoji Autocomplete

· by Dasmer Singh, iOS Engineer

Venmo payment notes are more than just a memo for transaction history. They provide a social way to make and request payments in the news feed, and users often write clever and witty messages to express their reason for payment.

With close to a quarter of all Venmo notes using an emoji, we wanted to take a look at how we could make using an emoji easier and more fun for our users. That's why today, we are releasing the Emoji Autocomplete feature in the Venmo iOS app! Simply tap on the emoji button, type the name of the emoji you’re looking for, and select it from the list. Emoji are also suggested as you type a payment note.

For example if you type “pizza”, you will be given the option to use a:

instead, or if you type “rent”, you will be given the option to use the emoji combination:

Of course, if you ever want to turn emoji suggestions off, you can always flip the switch in Settings.

Emoji Autocomplete is available today in the App Store. We hope that you love the feature as much as we do. As always we love getting user feedback — whether good or bad, so let us know what you think!

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Keep the fight in the ring this weekend with Venmo

· by Matthew Hamilton, Product Manager

Put away your boxing gloves -- there's no need to fight your friends to get your money back when you order the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight on Pay-Per-View this Saturday, May 2nd.

HBO and Showtime, along with Mayweather Promotions and Top Rank, have launched an innovative mobile ad experience with agencies PHD New York and Undertone. All you have to do is tap the ad to open the Venmo app where you can easily add your friends to pay for the event. Check out the mobile ad on Thrillist as well as mobile sites for College Spun and Men’s Fitness.

Instead of getting knocked out with the cost of covering the event for all of your friends, you can easily get paid back with Venmo.

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Love Pizza? Love Venmo? Papa John’s brings them both together.

· by Matthew Hamilton, Product Manager

People love to use Venmo to split pizza. In fact, the pizza slice is the most often used emoji on Venmo.

That’s why we’re excited to share that Papa John’s has integrated the Venmo API into their online and mobile checkout experience. So now, instead of chasing down your friends for their slice of the pie, it's easy to quickly request money from your friends for their share, as seen in the recent spot with NBA All Star Paul George. Here are the three easy steps:

1. Buy ALL THE PIZZA.

                                                            Gotta get buffalo chicken.

                                      Yeah, I want it ASAP.

2. Allow Papa John's access to your Venmo account, so you can request payments from your friends. 

3. Select your friends you want to share the pizza with.

Boom! The payment requests are out. Now you can enjoy your pizza without having to pester your friends to pay you back.

Go give it a shot and tell us what you think!

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Updates to Venmo Security

· by Aditya Pasumarty, Product Manager

We’re pleased to announce that multifactor authentication (MFA) is now available for all Venmo users on the web or the latest iOS and Android apps.

Our version of MFA requires an additional verification step when accessing Venmo from a new device. The feature is automatically turned on for all users in the latest version of the app. This is how it works:

  • Anytime we detect a sign-in attempt from a phone or browser you haven’t previously used to access Venmo, we will alert you via email and text a 6-digit code to your mobile phone. Entering this code correctly will let you successfully sign in to your Venmo account. So if someone knows your password, but doesn’t have access to your mobile phone, they won’t be able to get in.
  • After signing in, you may grant Venmo permission to remember that the device belongs to you. You won’t need a verification code when signing in from this device in the future. You will still need to enter your password correctly every time.

This feature is designed to maximize security while continuing to provide a quick and easy sign-in experience on devices you regularly use. As always, if you have questions please reach out to us at support@venmo.com or visit our help center for more information on multifactor authentication.

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Can Venmo Users Predict the March Madness Winner?

· by Venmo Data Team

March Madness is a time when people share their love for their alma mater or favorite team, and Venmo users are no different.

JT Glaze, one of our Data Scientists, looked at payment notes in the Venmo feed from Selection Sunday to the first game tip off for this year's NCAA tournament to build a Venmo user crowd-sourced bracket. Our methodology to determine the winner of each round looked at the number of times a school name, abbreviation or team mascot was mentioned in the Venmo feed.

Check our Venmo bracket out below - how does yours compare?

So: will our users predict the March Madness winner? Can a crowd-sourced bracket be a slam dunk?

Get out the popcorn and pizza, it's game time!

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