As more people embrace social media and integrate it into their daily lives, many businesses are supportive of consumers’ tech habits and seek ways to leverage that activity into something that benefits both sides. Venmo aims to bridge that gap by offering consumers and businesses a hassle-free way to send and accept payments through its new Nearby feature.

By mixing social into the personal finance category, the mobile payment app rose to popularity among consumers by giving them a fun and easy way to send money to friends. In doing so, users can see the notes associated with each payment. This social component has helped the app set itself apart from other mobile payment services.

While previously restricted to friends, Venmo announced yesterday that individuals don’t even have to know the person they’re paying anymore. Now they just need to be nearby. With this new feature, called Nearby, a user can send a payment to anyone within a few dozen feet. It could certainly make for fun surprises at meet-ups, conferences, or even your team’s next happy hour.

Of course, both the payer and payee have to be running iOS 7 and have the Venmo mobile app installed. According to the company, the bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled technology has “significantly” decreased the time taken to find and pay people. That’s something to keep in mind as a business owner who’s concerned with improving the customer experience.

Although the company is primarily focused on consumers right now, merchants can take advantage Venmo Nearby, too. With a businesses account you can leave Nearby on and then anyone in your venue can send you a payment. The app also helped  Peter Groverman raise $50,000 for charity. Additionally, you can see how Venmo is helping out charities like Malaria No More and GiveDirectly.

Here are a couple of other business-specific features of Venmo that you should check out.

Venmo Touch


Venmo Touch, which is powered by Braintree, makes it easier to checkout in mobile apps. It does this by saving credit and debit card information, allowing consumers to re-use them later without having to re-type all of the card details. When someone adds a new card within a participating app, he or she can save that card with Venmo Touch.

Later, that card can be used to checkout with just one touch inside other participating apps — including Hotel Tonight and TaskRabbit — or in the Venmo app. Currently, Venmo Touch is only available to companies that have a Braintree account. For more information on how to enable the feature within your iOS app, check out the documentation.

Venmo Payouts

Venmo Payouts enables small businesses to send money to multiple people with only a phone number or email address. This means that you don’t have to collect bank account information from payees. Venmo will handle everything and your service providers can get paid, cash out, and receive money in their bank accounts the next business day. If your company regularly hires independent contractors and freelancers, this can be a great way to send payment.

If your small business is looking for new technology to experiment with or ways to improve customer experience, it’s worth looking into how Venmo can help. The app is currently available for Android and iOS, although the Nearby feature only supports the latter.

[Image credit: Wonderlane]