Why Are Mobile Payments Companies Experimenting With Plastic?

The latest innovation from cutting edge digital payment app companies is... a debit card?

Venmo, one of the leading peer-to-peer payment apps, is reportedly experimenting with plain old plastic cards, according to Recode, citing sources familiar with the matter.

A Venmo representative told NBC News the company has "nothing to announce at this time."

Image: The Venmo application is pictured in Washington, D.C.
The Venmo application is pictured in Washington, D.C. Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg/Getty Images

Related: Could Apple's Next Move Finally Kill the Need to Carry Cash?

"We will continue to test, introduce and expand features that allow people to use Venmo to pay friends and shop in new ways," the representative said in a statement to NBC News.

But some Venmo transactions feeds belonging to company employees seemed to show the cards had been tested at various shops and fast food locations, including Chipotle and Taco Bell, Recode reported.

One advantage, a source told Recode, is that customers wouldn't have to wait an entire day to spend funds that were sent to them and could instead swipe right away with their physical cards.

Venmo certainly isn't the only mobile payments provider to play with plastic.

Square Cash has also been rolling out physical cards linked to a user's Square Cash balance. The cards aren't yet available to all Square Cash users, but work the same way as a using the virtual card offered in the app.

Square CEO Jack Dorsey casually showed his off in a tweet earlier this year.

Mobile payments are continuing to seep into the mainstream. In the United States, 46 percent of consumers — approximately 114 million people — reported making a mobile payment last year, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

But there may be value in investing in something as old school as plastic cards, Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told NBC News.

"This is classic 'clicks to bricks' strategy, or a cloud company moving into the tangible world," Moorhead said. These companies "need scale and adding cards enables them to grow and scale to be a bigger force in the payments market."