SAN FRANCISCO: Venmo, the peer-to-peer app for transferring money, has helped encourage usage of its service by tapping into positive emotional space, rather than focusing solely on financial matters.

Jay Parekh, Director/Business Development at Venmo – which is owned by PayPal, and is now responsible for an annual payments volume of roughly $19bn – discussed this subject at the Open Mobile Summit.

More specifically, he suggested that by carefully examining the context for using its app, Venmo was able to shift consumer perceptions away from an emphasis on the fact they were being parted from their money.

And it achieved this goal in no small part by simply asking users to add personalised notes, complete with emojis, when making payments to their friends, be it for a restaurant bill, event tickets or anything else they owed money for.

"We actually require a note for every single payment. And it kind of sounds stupid – like an artificial way to be social – but that note does a lot," Parekh said. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: How Venmo built passion around a payments brand.)

"Before, if I sent you a request for $100, it would just be about that $100 and nothing else. But having a note shifts the context really dramatically."

Drilling down into this topic, he argued that encouraging users to remember the positive reasons behind many payments can yield meaningful emotional benefits.

"It shifts it to [recalling] that amazing meal we shared together. It shifts it to the amazing weekend experience we had together," he said.

Uber, the taxi app, is another example of an organisation which has moved beyond looking only at functional features, and instead addressing the wider payoffs it can provide.

"They've shifted the context completely away from Uber as a vehicle – something you get into to get from A to B – to Uber as a way to get precious minutes from your day back," Parkeh said.

The broader lesson, he continued, involves the power of "figuring out how to shift the context of your product or service to help people develop more love for it, because it really becomes about the benefit their life gets from it."

Data sourced from Warc