- Product design & build
In a world where everything we do and everywhere we go can be immediate public knowledge, why not make our financial transactions public as well? This is where the money-sharing app Venmo comes in.
According to Venmo, the app “provides a social way to pay your friends when you owe them money and don't want to deal with cash.” Compared to other financial apps such as Paypal, Venmo doesn’t charge you an additional fee for sending money to friends or family. Although Venmo was created to send and request payments easily, it also functions as a social media platform where users can track their friends' spending.
What is it and how does it work?
To begin using the app, Venmo asks you to create an account and link it to your bank. To make and send payments, you must specify who you’re paying or requesting money from and a description of what the transaction is for. This can take the form of actual words or you can go ‘full millennial’ and just use emojis. From there, money is transferred quickly from one user to another within 24 hours. The result is a highly efficient mobile payment app that’s easily accessible.
Sharing more than just money
Since the app has become more widely used by millennials, the phrase “I’ll Venmo you” has found its way into their daily jargon. While some see Venmo as being invasive, millennials find it completely normal to share their spending habits in the same way they share everything else. Is this a harmless app that integrates social media and finance, or is it simply oversharing? It seems that most agree with the former as Venmo is currently on track to process $20 billion in payments per year according to Fortune magazine.
A new financial culture
The fact that younger people seem undaunted by the prospect of using an app that makes their spending habits so public reflects the emergence of a more open attitude to personal finance. The app’s platform allows people to communicate more candidly about their spending habits than ever before. But what has brought about this transparency when publicising millennial’s transactions? It’s likely the same reason they share anything – there’s a certain feeling of satisfaction in showing people that you’re spending your money on the best, most exciting things. In a world where you can easily track what concert tickets or new shoes someone is purchasing, privacy is no longer a priority.
Social media and spending
Venmo functions in a similar way to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, by enabling users to show an idealised version of themselves to the public, except that it’s done via the medium of financial transactions. The app shows what kind of products your friends are purchasing, providing a window into their lifestyle and tastes, all of which appears on a scrollable feed just like any other social media platform. However, Venmo also contains privacy settings that allow you to decide who can view your transactions. Venmo's dual financial and social functionality makes it an app that's likely to make its way into the ranks of the top, most used financial apps. We suggest keeping any eye on this one.
What does this mean for the future?
Currently Venmo does not disclose the the specific amount of money spent or requested by its users, but there’s no telling what the future holds as its popularity continues to grow. It’s clearly an app intended for younger people who have grown up in an age of social media, where sharing everything and anything is the norm. Older generations tend to differ on this front and draw the line at sharing their financial history. This line will likely be blurred as more apps like Venmo appear and continue to make sharing the exchange of money less of a taboo. Whether it’s splitting the bill, reimbursing someone for a taxi ride, or paying rent, Venmo is making life easier for people everywhere and is likely the first of many apps shaping the future of online spending.
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