Venmo – Split The Check

CPU™02 September 2015

project description

Venmo may have some cause for concern. Their parent company PayPal is moving in on their territory, sort of. Paypal recently launched their own dedicated payment requesting service It’s slightly different than Venmo in that you send out your custom link to request funds. It’s also worth noting that Paypal already had the ability to send a receive funds in their app for a while now. Where does this leave Venmo? Hopefully looking to expand their features.  As an experiment I decided to do just that. 

For the purpose of this project let’s take on a common problem that Venmo could potentially solve. If you’ve ever gone out to dinner with a large group of friends, you have undoubtedly run into a situation where the bill comes up short. Either someone got their math wrong, or they forgot to include the tax. What if you could leave it up to one person to settle the bill for the whole table. Then, through Venmo, send out a request for exactly the amount of money each person owes. It’s an effective solution for current Venmo users and an excellent way to introduce new users. First, lets examine what people actually do when the check arrives.

A good place to start is to break down the steps which take place during check out. Typically, when dining with a group, you go through the preceding steps to settle your portion of the check. Some people will follow this precisely while others may approximate and hope for the best. When the bill comes up short, nobody knows who to confront, and everybody else inevitably covers it. In this age of powerful handheld computers, why can’t we end a group dinner without an impromptu game of Who Done It? On iOS there are multiple apps available to help you split the check, Billr, Divvy, Tab, and Plates by Splitwise.  I’m not going to go into too much detail about these apps, but I want to give you a quick rundown of the pros and cons.


  • Billr
  • “The quickest way to split a bill and calculate the tip at restaurants & bars.”

    Billr Usage


    • Intuitive, doesn’t require instructions.
    • Doesn’t require data connection.
    • Share results via Text or Email.


    • Manually input each menu item.
    • Sometimes forget which person each column represents.
    • Can not process payment.

  • Plates by Splitwise
  • “Splitting the check has never been so easy.”

    Plates Usage


    • Intuitive UI, Doesn’t require much instructions.
    • Send results via text or email.


    • Manually input each menu item and tax.
    • Sometimes forget which person each plate represents.
    • Does not process payment.

  • Divvy
  • “Divvy makes splitting the check as easy as snap, drag, and pay. Just snap a photo of the bill, drag each item to the person who ordered it, and see how much everyone owes.”

    Divvy Usage


    • Takes a picture of the receipt to convert into usable data.
    • Use your contacts, an in-App Avatar, or Take pictures of friends to help identify which “cart” represents who.
    • Drag & Drop menu items into recipients cart.
    • Does not require internet connection.


    • UI needs overhaul, looks like it was designed by a developer. (That’s right, I said it.)
    • Not Free ($1.00).
    • Receipt data is often inaccurate and correcting them sometimes causes other items to read incorrectly after re-calibrating data.
    • Can not share with other guests.
    • Can not process payment.

  • Tab
  • “The simple way to split a bill among friends.”

    Tab Usage


    • Initial Onboarding is helpful.
    • Takes picture of the receipt to convert into usable data.
    • Recognises when there are two orders of a single item and splits them into two separate items.
    • Clean interface.
    • Share the bill with other guests via invite code.


    • Manually add tax.
    • Requires internet connection.
    • Processing receipt takes approximately 30 seconds.
    • Does Not Process payment.


    Out of all of the mobile payment platforms, Venmo has the youngest user base, but it is gaining popularity with the older crowd. It’s suggested that Millennials are more comfortable trusting technology due to the influence of Facebook over the more cynical 30 somethings. I suspect social proof will win over more people, moving us closer towards a cashless system. As for right now, I needed a generic subject. I crafted the following Persona based on the traits of the top 5 Venmo users in my circle of friends.


    • Name: Brandon L.
    • Age: 26
    • Education: BFA in Graphic Design and Interactive Media
    • Hobbies: Instagram, Snowboarding, Mountain Biking, Foodie
    • Quote: “Go that way, Really fast. If something gets in your way, Turn.”


    • Occupation: Front-end Web Developer at a mid size Startup & Freelance Web Designer on the side.


    • Maintains a busy lifestyle between work/freelance, hobbies, and relationships. Any opportunity to free up time is appreciated.
    • Rarely has cash on hand, pays for everything with debit or credit card.
    • Frequently uses apps like Grubhub and Eat24 for its convenience.


    I put together a flowchart that incorporates the best aspects of the competing products to understand the scope of this project. How many clicks does it take to reach the final goal, can some interactions be eliminated, or perhaps it requires more. During this phase you can clearly visualize the steps and identify sticking points

    Flow Chart


    Time to start putting some ideas on paper. Using the chart as a guide, I sketched out the user interface. Referencing screen captures of Venmo and the official Style Guide to get an idea of what elements I can work with.

    wireframe sketch

    As I was putting together the wireframe in Axure I realized how lo-fi Venmo’s UI is. I understand the the point of an initial wireframe is to demonstrate the usage without the distraction of style. However, It’s just as easy for me to render in Venmo’s actual style as it is to draw grey boxes. To expedite this process, I jumped over to Illustrator to bang out the assets.

    Veno wireframe assets


    When building the prototype I discovered some minor limitations of Axure Pro. In the section where you physically split the check, the amount of conditional logic required to create a fully functional Drag-n-Drop system is limited. Instead of being able to drop a menu item on anyone, you can only drop it on the person that ordered it. Obviously that’s not how the actual application will work, but this prototype should be good enough to discover where the user gets hung up during User Testing sessions.

    Axure prototype image

    Try it out for yourself by clicking the button below.

    Launch VENMO Prototype

    project details