Venmo Concept: Ensuring Payment Security

Discover

The focus of this initial stage is to interview users on their experiences and attitudes with Venmo. After conversing with some peers about their interactions with Venmo, I created a survey to gather more user data surrounding the reservations, concerns, difficulties, and problems users have surrounding Venmo. I created survey questions to delve into these topics:

  1. Describe your firs texperience using Venmo.

From the survey results, I pinpointed several pain points within the Venmo user experience that were common among multiple interviewees:

  1. Venmo users knew it was a widely-used app but still had initial reservations and concerns about security issues : Some users are concerned with connecting their bank accounts and leaving money in an app instead of their bank accounts since transferring the app money to their banks took way too long. Others are concerned with paying large amounts of money.

After analyzing the results and grouping them into categories, I decided to further explore three specific pain points:

  • Security concerns: pain point #1, 2, 9
Brainstorming problem spaces with sticky notes

Define

We can see that most of the pain points result from an inconvenient experience that makes users more prone to making mistakes. Although solving any one of these pain points would improve the Venmo user experience, there exists a more pressing problem that should first be addressed.

This problem is security.

  1. Out of 30 people I interviewed, 18 mentioned the word “security”

“ The only way I was able to find and confirm my landlord was when he screenshotted his Venmo profile picture and name. And that is pretty sketchy. ” — Tony L.

“ I think sending large amounts of money scares me a little, especially when there is no verification. ” — Agnes S.

“ I requested money from someone and was wondering why after so long he hasn’t paid me back. I then realized I requested a stranger with the same name. But now it is too late to request the right person after this long. ” — Chris W.

When I need to pay a large amount of money with Venmo, I want to find and verify that I am paying the right person, so I can make a correct transaction and avoid mistakes…

But I can’t do that well because:

  1. Multiple users with the same name pop up at the same time

Develop

The problem primarily lies in the lack of that extra step of verification when finding and paying an user. For top or mutual friends, it may be easy to find and confirm the right person. However, this may not be the case for strangers with no mutual friends.

Scenario:

  1. Cathy needs to pay rent to Pam Johnson at PJ Apartments

In this scenario, I further analyzed Venmo features and pinpointed what works and what can still be improved.

What works:

  1. Top friends list allow easy access to frequent transactions

What can still be improved:

  1. Searching for a user with no shared mutual friend and no prior transaction can become confusing

Possible solutions:

  1. Incorporating detailed profiles as a way of verifying the right user

Incorporating profiles would effectively confirm the right user but this would require all Venmo users to complete a detailed profile. Generating a link that the user can paste to other users would also be an effective verification method but links may be easily forgotten and the receiving user may never be paid as a result.

Therefore, I decided to go with the third solution.

Possible Solution Sketches

User flow leading up to code verification
Verification code sent through different modes of communication
Recipient side userflow

User Flow

Cathy paying Pam Johnson:

Creates new transaction → Types in “Pam Johnson” and clicks Pam Johnson → Types in amount and description →Clicks pay → Venmo generates 4-digit code (only if 1. I am paying Pam for the first time, 2. Pam and I have no mutual friends, 3. Amount is greater than $500) → Choses mode of communication → Prompts email address/phone number/messenger handle → Enters information and clicks send → Confirmation of sent message

High-Fi User Flow

User Side Prototype

Pam Johnson receiving money from Cathy: Opens Venmo feed → Enters 4-digit verification code → Clicks verify → Confirmation of successful transaction

Hi-Fi Recipient User Flow

Recipient Side Prototype

Reflection and Conclusion

The entire process took around 8 hours. I spent 1/4 of the time conducting interviews and gathering user input and half of the time ideating and re-iterating over my design solution. The rest of the time was spent putting everything together.

After finishing my mock-ups, I realized that my idea had a fundamental flaw that needed to be fixed. My initial iteration would have sent the 4-digit verification code to the chosen mode of communication through Venmo’s stored information. This would mean that even if an user paid the wrong person, the person would still receive the code and be able to receive the money. Realizing this flaw, I went back and added extra steps to my design solution. By requiring the user to manually enter in the email address/phone number or messenger handle, this eliminates my initial flaw.

My solution works to address the issue of security. However, it still maintains the disassociation between Venmo and other modes of communication. I began generating new questions to evaluate the tradeoff:

  1. Is adding extra steps worth the increase in confidence?

Although I didn’t think of solutions for these questions giving my time constraint, these are important pain points that I intend to answer with future iterations.

Thanks for reading :)*This is a personal project: I am in no way affiliated with Venmo.

Experience Designer @Adobe