7 million Venmo transactions scraped to warn other users

By VARINDIA - 2019-06-25

7 million Venmo transactions scraped to warn other users

PayPal owned Venmo users need to set their accounts to private as a Computer Science student, Dan Salmon scraped 7 million Venmo transactions between July 2018 and February 2019, thus sending a warning to other users of the payment app. Salmon was able to scrape 40 transactions per minute, amounting to 57,600 transactions per day.

 

Venmo faced backlash from regulators and consumers regarding its privacy over the past year, but Salmon's effort shows users are still concerned. PayPal settled with the FTC last year over privacy and security violations, saying it would change its disclosure to more clearly tell users how to limit the sharing of transaction details. But last year, another user raised concern after accessing 207 million Venmo transactions — and Salmon's efforts show that Venmo still has work to do.

 

One of the biggest drawbacks of Venmo is its social feed structure which repeatedly invokes the question around privacy.

 

Venmo's social component differentiates it from competitors like Square Cash or Zelle. And it's been a driver of repeat engagement, as many users open Venmo even when they are not transacting —interacting with it like a social media platform.

 

But Venmo transactions are public by default. Users can easily go into their settings and switch their accounts to private — but many are seemingly unaware of this setting.

 

Venmo is reportedly delaying eliminating its public feed as it is unlikely to lose users if it removes the public feed. Venmo execs were reportedly in talks last year about eliminating the ability for users to publicly post and view transactions on Venmo amid backlash.

 

But ongoing privacy concerns could be detrimental to its monetization push if low consumer trust steers people away from trying its other products.


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