I signed up for the money-sending service Venmo about a year ago and it has since become the one app that I can’t imagine living without.
In case you’re not familiar with it, Venmo’s premise is simple: You connect it to your checking account and it enables you to send and receive payments in only a matter of taps and swipes. Emoji are optional, but encouraged.
It’s the perfect solution for splitting costs among groups, especially for people who hate carrying cash. The app has even grown so popular that it has achieved the coveted verb status of services like Google.
“I’ve got this,” someone will say to their friends, forking over their card to the waiter, “You can just Venmo me.”
Venmo makes paying back a friend incredibly simple and takes any awkwardness out of asking someone for owed money. You’ll never again be haunted by hazy memories of promised IOU’s, because every debt gets recorded, and often settled, instantly.
As a 24-year-old in New York City, I use Venmo to simplify complicated restaurant checks, split late-night cabs, and go-halfsies for concert tickets, beer runs, and birthday presents. I even use it to pay my rent and utilities every month. There’s a social element to it, too: If you make your payments public, they will show up on your friends’ Venmo newsfeeds. That can lead to vicarious guesses as to why two friends are splitting a 4 am cab, but it also adds one more layer of accountability. If you see that everyone else has already sent your one friend money for drinks, you’ll remember to quickly complete your payment.
I really can’t imagine living without Venmo, because that would mean regressing back to the days when I had to own a checkbook for rent and would feel guilty because my friend spotted me for something, but I never remembered to have the cash on hand to pay her back.
Its Venmo’s ubiquity, though, that makes it truly irreplaceable.
eBay CEO John Donahoe said as much on eBay’s fourth quarter earnings call (the company has owned Venmo since it acquired its parent company Braintree for $US800 million in 2013).
“Venmo is on fire,” Donahoe said, via Seeking Alpha’s transcript. “Venmo is acquiring new users. It’s a leading peer-to-peer way to pay. And if you go to any college campus across America, they talk about Venmo-ing money to each other.”
Square, PayPal, and Google all have peer-to-peer money sending options, but no one has ever suggested Google-Walleting me for dinner. Nearly everyone I know has Venmo, and whenever someone doesn’t, they get peer pressured into joining pretty quickly, because everyone wants to avoid the stress of splitting a six-person brunch with complicated mental-maths and a pile of crumpled $US20 bills.
When I look at my phone’s homescreen, my most-used apps are predominantly social or for organisation. Sure, I love Twitter and Pocket and my Reminders app, but only Venmo truly solves a significant problem that makes my life easier and less stressful on a regular basis. Its only real competition, I guess, would be Google Maps, but I’d rather go back to poring over subway maps than stuffing my pockets with dollar bills.