Keeping the Venmo Community Secure - The Company’s Approach to OFAC Compliance



Last Updated: March 2020

From time to time we get questions about specific keywords associated with payments that, due to our efforts to comply with regulatory requirements, have caused us to pause and review certain transactions. There are several misconceptions around these holds, and we want to take the opportunity to provide additional information on the process.

Our goal is to deliver a seamless payment experience while we work to ensure payments made on our platforms comply with applicable laws. Venmo, like other U.S. financial institutions, screens payment activity and flags any payments that may violate U.S. economic sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This includes screening payment notes for references to certain sanctioned countries, individuals, and organizations included on OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals (or, the SDN List. For more information, we encourage you to visit the OFAC website). To that end, the company has long maintained policies to help ensure that the movement of money from person-to-person is done in a way that complies with OFAC regulations.

We realize any delay in making or receiving a payment can be frustrating, and we appreciate our users’ patience as we take steps to comply with our regulatory obligations. In most cases, this review process will only result in a short delay and not impact the completion of user transactions. This is an ever-evolving process and our teams are continuously working to improve and refine our approach and associated review times.

More information on commonly asked questions can be found below:

How does this affect payments sent and received? If the note associated with a payment raises concerns that the payment may violate OFAC regulations, we pause the payment for further review. The user who sent the payment will be alerted that it has been put “in review.” This review may require further information from the sender for verification. Once we have received any required information, completed the review, and determined that the payment does not violate OFAC regulations, the payment will be processed as intended. If our review process determines the payment may violate OFAC regulations, we must block or reject the transaction.

What are the review times? We strive to review and contact users on the status of their payment in 72 hours or less. If we have further questions, or determine we cannot process the payment, we will contact users with an update on the situation via email.

Have more questions? Please feel free to reach out to or via our in-app live chat, where our Support team representatives are on standby to assist.

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