Mobile Payments Leader Venmo Rolls Out New Limited Edition Rainbow Debit Card

February 26, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

For a long time, Venmo was really just an app. That was good enough for quite some time, especially since it was basically the only firm operating in the peer-to-peer (P2P) side of mobile payments. Fast forward a few years, and now, P2P is big business, and Venmo has drawn plenty of competitors eager to land a slice of that market. Venmo has responded to this with innovation and branching out, and the most recent move involves a limited-edition debit card with a very colorful payment scheme.

It’s being called the rainbow card, and it works pretty much like any other debit card that Venmo has released. Users will be able to pay bills with the card at any business that accepts Mastercard—which includes making withdrawals at ATMs—and have the payment come from their Venmo balance.

Who gets the card? Well, apparently, it’s just going to “top cardholders,” which basically means “people who already have a Venmo debit card and use it a whole lot”. While the new card is only available as a limited edition, it won’t be limited for long; starting March 4, the card goes into wide release and anybody can use a rainbow Venmo card.

The problem with this plan is that it’s not much of an innovation. Sure, some customers get rewarded  with a “special” card, but the card is neither that special nor even that special for very long. The card will be “special” for about two weeks or so, and then suddenly, the floodgates open and anyone can have one. What’s the value in that to the end user? Granted, there’s always something of an appeal to aesthetics, but for crying out loud, this is just a colorful card. Any other company can replicate this probably in a matter of hours, even if there were some kind of demand for a debit card that was also a fashion statement.

You’ve got to give Venmo credit—or maybe debit—for trying, but this isn’t exactly a promotional bell-ringer, so to speak. The reward to the customer is minimal, the rest of the base spends a couple weeks alienated until they can get in on this, and then suddenly, no one’s special any more. This promotion likely won’t make much of a splash.