(Credit: PayPal)

Just as much as you and I like figuring out different ways to spend money, the people handling our hard-earned dollars love figuring out different methods to process the transaction. Google Pay was updated for "peer-to-peer" payments (for things like chipping in on a purchase, bar tab, or restaurant meal) just a few weeks ago, and Zelle is reportedly looking at adding support for local businesses.

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Today brings news that the PayPal mobile app is getting updated, mainly for quality-of-life improvements, but with the net effect of feeling more like a peer-to-peer payment app that one you use to buy things online.

Now when you open the app, your balance, activity feed, and Send and Receive buttons are all available on the home screen, rather than divided into their own sections. PayPal's team of developers has also streamlined the process of adding your photo so that people can verify that money is going to or coming from the right person.

The demo video provided by PayPal definitely emphasizes peer-to-peer payments, however, with the activity feed consisting entirely of people, with nary a store to be seen. One person requests $50 for babysitting, another person sends you $50 for literal beer money, and a third person wants $250 for instructional lessons.

Underneath the set of card-based notifications is a row of profile pictures that you can slide horizontally to see more, and each pic can be tapped on to send money directly to that person.

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If you use PayPal largely as a payment option when buying something online, this whole Venmo/Square-like experience brings a much different vibe to the mobile app. PayPal's former parent company eBay actually purchased Venmo's parent company Braintree in 2013 for $800 million, and PayPal took Venmo with it when it was spun off from eBay in 2015.

Since the acquisition of Venmo, PayPal has been careful not to overlap with it too much, but after its split from eBay, it began making Venmo a payment option wherever PayPal could be used. With this latest update to the PayPal mobile app, its separation from Venmo becomes increasingly blurred.

For now, this new version is limited to overseas test markets such as Australia and Italy, but all Android and iOS users should have it "over the coming weeks."

The takeaways

  1. The PayPal mobile app is getting a visual refresh to move common activities onto the home screen, and to provide tighter integration of peer-to-peer transactions.
  2. PayPal already owns Venmo, which is primarily a P2P payment app, so this redesign may blur the line between the company's two platforms.
  3. This new version is currently limited to Italy and Australia, but PayPal says that everyone should have it "over the coming weeks."

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.