Bill-payment platform provider PayNearMe Inc. will dramatically expand its merchant network with the addition of Walgreens Co. in an agreement announced Wednesday. The pharmacy chain adds nearly 9,000 Walgreens and Duane Reade locations to PayNearMe’s merchant network, bringing the company’s total to more than 40,000 retail locations. PayNearMe’s platform lets unbanked consumers pay bills at merchant locations ideally situated near their homes.
About 78% of the population in the United States lives within five miles of a Walgreens or Duane Reade store, according to PayNearMe. To initiate a bill payment through PayNearMe, a consumer receives a barcode through PayNearMe via email or text message, or can scan a PayNearMe barcode on her bill, if applicable. Next, the consumer takes the barcode to a participating merchant, scans it at the point-of-sale, gives the money to the cashier, and receives a receipt confirming the payment.
“Walgreens is a premium brand and has a great footprint, especially in New York City with Duane Reade,” says Michael Kaplan, chief revenue officer and general manager for PayNearMe, who adds PayNearMe has increased its retailer network nearly 50% in the 12 past months. “Our clients can now offer their cash-preferred customers even more convenience by allowing them to pay their bills in the same location where they shop.”
The deal with Walgreens builds on PayNearMe’s recent addition of PayPal and Venmo to its payment options. In addition to cash payments, PayNearMe also supports bill payments via credit and debit cards and bank accounts.
For merchants, Santa Clara, Calif.-based PayNearMe says a big advantage of joining its network is that PayNearMe clients can increase foot traffic in store, which increases the potential for incremental sales. “We create door swings, which increases the likelihood the size of the shopping cart will increase,” says Kaplan.
Looking ahead, Kaplan says his company plans to keep expanding its merchant network, targeting especially convenience and dollar stores, grocers, and pharmacies. These merchant categories offer the biggest growth opportunities, according to PayNearMe. The company already has a footprint in these merchants through deals with convenience-store chain Casey’s Retail Co., as well as Family Dollar Stores Inc., Wal-Mart Inc., and CVS Pharmacy Inc., for example.
“These merchant categories are well set-up for what we do,” says Kaplan, who adds the company is working on a cash-disbursement product that allows consumers to withdraw funds from their PayNearMe account via a cashless ATM transaction.