Venmo update lets you pay with Touch ID directly from your bank

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Social payments app Venmo has added a few new features that make it easier to set up your account as well as pay with a thumb tap if you happen to own a later-generation iPhone.

The newest version of its iOS app will support Touch ID, letting newer iPhone and iPad owners bypass personal identification numbers and instead authorize payments with their thumbprints. Venmo hasn’t extended the feature to Android phones with fingerprint biometrics yet, but its parent company [company]PayPal[/company] (which acquired Venmo when it bought Braintree last year) has released payment apps that make use of the Samsung Galaxy S5’s digit scanner.

Venmo Touch ID

On the banking side, Venmo has penned deals with [company]Chase[/company], [company]Wells Fargo[/company], [company]Bank of America[/company] and [company]Citibank[/company] to use their online and mobile credentials to directly link to the Venmo app. Venmo, like other automated clearing house (ACH) financial services, moves money directly in and out of your bank accounts through direct transfers, but in order to make that initial account link, Venmo goes through a rather ungainly process of requesting your bank account and routing numbers and verifying that information in several steps.

Now customers of those four major banks can simply type their online banking user name and passwords into a secure login page to instantly link their checking accounts to the Venmo’s network. Venmo said it doesn’t store those credentials; it only passes that information along to the bank for authentication purposes.

Finally Venmo added a feature called mentions into its payment apps, which lets users tag each other on specific transactions in their social networks. That might seem like an odd feature to include in a finance app, but that kind of social interaction has proven key to Venmo’s success with the younger set.

As peer-to-peer payments have moved from the PC browser to the smartphone, transactions are no longer just about paying for goods online. Instead Venmo is targeting immediate social interactions between friends, which often involves money changing hands. For instance people use Venmo to split a bill a restaurant in lieu of everyone ponying up cash or giving a bartender a digital tip. It’s a model that other payments companies like Square and even Venmo’s parent PayPal are starting to follow

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