Venmo (PYPL) Unveils Digital Credit Card for Smartphones by Visa, Synchrony

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Venmo, the popular mobile payment network owned by PayPal Holdings Inc., on Monday unveiled a digital-focused credit card, entering the fray of financial-services providers looking to leverage smartphones.

The Visa credit card, issued by Synchrony Financial, will be managed through Venmo’s smartphone app, but accompanied by a physical card printed with a QR code. The primary methods of making purchases will be via a credit-card number for online shopping or the physical card in stores, Venmo said Monday.

One of the card’s key differentiators is its rewards structure, which gives users 3% cash back for their top spending category each billing cycle, 2% for the next highest and 1% for all other purchases, said Venmo Senior Vice President Darrell Esch and Dennis Bauer, who leads the Venmo and PayPal partnership at Synchrony. The eight categories include bills and utilities, travel, groceries and dining and nightlife.

The rewards are the same whether purchases are made online or with the physical card, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Apple Card awards just 1% for physical-card purchases where Apple Pay isn’t accepted.

PayPal also has been rolling out QR code scanning for credit-card purchases at some retailers, including CVS Health Corp. drugstores, as another payment method. The physical Venmo card’s QR code, however, will be reserved for card activation and for other Venmo users to send card customers a payment.

The card can also be used in both the Google Pay and Samsung Pay apps for tap-to-pay purchases at retailers. Venmo is in discussions with Apple Inc. for support in Apple Pay on iPhones, Esch and Bauer said in an interview. The card, which doesn’t have an annual fee, will be rolled out to 5% to 15% of Venmo users this year, and available to the rest in the first quarter of 2021.