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Venmo Research: What's money between friends?

 

 

 

 

 

As payment integrations within messaging experiences become more common, I independently led a competitive analysis on Venmo to explore how the mobile payment app is making financial activity amongst emerging adults more enjoyable, and how Google's Android Messages team can improve the experience of sending money through a messaging app.

 

The Opportunity

 Mobile Wallet Transactions in the US are seeing considerable growth.

Mobile Wallet Transactions in the US are seeing considerable growth.

Payments are increasingly being incorporated into messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, and iMessage. However engagement with payment features in messaging apps do not appear to be as prominent as with stand-alone mobile payment apps like Square Cash and Zelle. 

I led this research project to provide the Android Messages team with tactical insights in regard to building a reliable, safe, convenient, and enjoyable payment experience in messaging. 

The Communications Product Area within Google aims to build products that facilitate meaningful personal communications and connections for people worldwide. With this study I also examined how people are using Venmo to enhance their social relationships and connect with others, through expressive content like emojis.  

 


The Process

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I begun my research by examining past literature on peer-to-peer transactions both in developed and developing markets. In addition, I led conversations with 10 stakeholders, including Interaction Designers, Product Managers, and UX Directors across the Google Payments and Android Messages teams to identify and prioritize research questions relevant to emerging but critical product features.

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Recent data privacy laws, and the taboo nature of conversations about money meant that I needed to be especially prudent and mindful in designing my study.  Determining the best research methods to employ and how to design the study required me to take into account the following; 

  • How long it will take to get the most important information and insights?

  • Are visual records of participants' reactions necessary to capture?

  • Is there a salient need to follow up and delve deeper on any questions?

  • How can we create a comfortable lab environment for early and effective rapport development ? – this was an important consideration because we are asking participants questions about a particularly sensitive topic, financial behavior.

 
 I employed mixed quantitative and qualitative methods in this research.

I employed mixed quantitative and qualitative methods in this research.

I employed an unstructured interview style in which I made participants aware of the general goal of the study, while allowing them to go into as much detail as they desired about their past experiences sending money through their mobile device. 

I implemented in-person interviews in order to create a comfortable environment for rapport building. I de-prioritized video capture of participants' faces because although a participant's visual reaction may be more consequential in a usability study, I did not feel it was neccesaary in such foundational research. Alternatively, I implemented a simple lab design with audio recording of participants' voices, and video capture of their devices as they walked through their more recent experiences sending money through Venmo and other apps. 

 

 

 The survey included 5-point scale questions, single choice questions, and multiple answer questions.

The survey included 5-point scale questions, single choice questions, and multiple answer questions.

I fielded a follow-up survey in order to asses the generalizability of insights from the unstructured interviews.

I tied survey questions to simple but actionable objectives and insights.

I randomized the order of multiple and single answer choices to prevent primacy effects and any satisficing biases. 

I avoided asking respondents about newer Venmo features that participants in interviews did not have much experience with (ie: purchasing online through Venmo). I only asked questions about past behavior that respondents could easily interpret and answer validly.

 


Insights and Findings