How to use Venmo, the app that young people are replacing cash with

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

Venmo has turned from a simple way to pay friends into a cultural juggernaut.

Like “Ubering” and “Googling,” Venmo has become a verb: “Venmo me.” There have been concerns about Venmo’s security and a Federal Trade Commission investigation, but the app has continued its meteoric growth. Venmo, which is now owned by PayPal, saw its volume of payments grow 154% year over year in Q1 of 2016, ballooning to $3.2 billion.

Why? Because Venmo is an easy and free way to pay back your friends when you don’t have cash in your wallet. All it takes is a few clicks.

If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the Venmo pool, here is a basic walkthrough of the app:

When you open the Venmo app, you are taken to your personal feed, which shows your history of transactions.

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To get to the main Venmo menu you tap the 'hamburger icon' in the upper left. To send and receive money, you need to link a bank account or debit card. You can do this under the 'Settings' tab.

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You can link your checking account or you can also link a credit or debit card (though a 3% fee applies credit cards, and some debit cards). Most people use their checking accounts.

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Moving back to 'Settings,' one of the things you might want to change is how your transactions are shared. One of the quirky features of Venmo is the 'feeds,' which show you how your friends and even people you don't know are paying each other (though they don't show dollar amounts).

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If you want to limit how you share transactions, you can select your 'audience' and limit it to just yourself, your friends, or the public.

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Here is what a typical 'friends' feed looks like. You can see all the things people are paying each other for, but there are no dollar amounts. Now onto paying or charging people. To do this, you tap the 'check and pen' icon in the upper right corner.

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That will bring you up a screen like this. I put in that I wanted to pay my editor Steven one dollar for editing. The main way people find friends to pay or charge is by linking their Facebook.

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After I click pay, the app confirms. Then I send it.

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The person who gets the payment (in this case Steven) is notified. That money goes into your Venmo account, which you can cash out at any time (it does take a few days to process). Here you can see Steven's Venmo balance is $7.00.

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To request a payment, you use the same method as paying except you hit 'request' instead of 'pay.'

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This goes through an extra layer of approval. Here you see that Steven has to actually approve my request before funds are taken from his linked checking account and put into my Venmo account.

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You can also choose to decline if you don't want to pay.

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Once you have money in your Venmo account, you can cash out by navigating to your personal profile and clicking 'Transfer to Bank.'

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That will pull up this screen, where you choose the amount to transfer. There isn't an advantage to keeping money in your Venmo account, so I always cash out as soon as any money comes in. The transfer takes a day or two usually.

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If it's successful you will get this pop-up screen.

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Lastly, if you think you have missed a transaction, go back to the main menu and click on 'Incomplete.'

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This will show you a list of requests or payments that haven't been approved yet.

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