Isn’t it a drag when you have to write a check to pay back a friend if you don’t have cash? Perhaps that’s okay if you carry around your checkbook. Otherwise, it becomes at least a two-step process that can really linger…
You’ve got to go home… write the check… put it in the mail… or have to wait until you see your friend again to hand over your money.
There’s got to be a better way through technology.
Well, of course there is…
Peer to Peer Transactions
Welcome to the world of peer to peer (P2P) money transaction services… a cashless way to electronically transfer money to family and friends through a mobile app on your smartphone.
I haven’t had the need for this type of financial person-to-person interface… until one day I suddenly felt like I had transported to an alternate universe where cash and checks never existed…
Where’s Your Digital Wallet?
My wife and I were offered a payment by another family to split the cost of swim lessons for all of the kids as part of an ongoing group playdate.
(Yes… swim lessons that are baked into a playdate… how efficient of all of us!)
And the payment offer was via the Venmo app.
And I was blindly holding onto the false impression that I’m up to speed on all of the current tech trends.
So, with my little bubble burst, I went home to do a little homework.
I knew I had some catching up to do…
Venmo is the well-known P2P mobile payment service owned by PayPal and has about 27 million users.
Signing up was a snap.
And if you just want to receive money and then use those same digital dollars to pay someone else, that’s also super simple.
But if you need to pull some of your own money into Venmo, then you have to link your Venmo account to your bank account, credit card or debit card.
While that’s not technically difficult to do, there’s sometimes a fee attached…
- Bank account – free
- Credit card – 3% fee
- Debit card – free
When you want to transfer money out of Venmo into your checking account, there’s also a 1% fee if you chose the ‘Instant Transfer’ option.
(minimum- 25¢, maximum- $10)
Otherwise, it’s free. But you’ve got to wait a couple of days, just like waiting for ‘an old-school check to clear.’
My First P2P Payment
The next step was to ‘friend’ people you want to pay in Venmo.
(It’s always a good idea to only friend folks you actually know.)
I searched for our swim class friends who got me started down this relatively shallow rabbit hole. I sent out my invite. And faster than you can say PayPal three times… we were “Venmo’d” together.
(Is that a verb? Quick… someone find me a Millennial!)
But I wasn’t over the finish line quite yet. I had to actually use the technology. As if connected by the Force, my friend sensed my need and sent me a prescient Venmo message…
It was a $1 “friend tariff.”
I stared at my iPhone.
Okay… I guess this was the final quiz for my Venmo 101 elective.
I tapped and paid the buck.
It was official.
I had joined the P2P payments world.
To celebrate, my friend paid me a dollar.
It was very exciting.
(And there was no disturbance in the Force)
In case you’re worrying about the swim lessons payment, my wife had already taken care of that particular Venmo transaction.
(Yes, I must admit that I often rely on “Mrs. More-at-Home-with-Tech.”)
How Social Do You Want to Be?
There’s also a social media component to Venmo. You have the choice to ‘share’ your Venmo activity…
You can post your activity to the Venmo world or just to your Venmo friends.
Or you don’t have to share it at all.
I know I might be revealing a wildly out-of-touch perspective here…
But why would I want to tell the world that I paid out money?
Is that really a social moment I’d want to share… with anybody?
For me, that information only belongs with me and the person I’ve paid.
Apple Pay Cash
A funny thing happened on my way to Venmo. I realized I already had access to another P2P payment app.
It’s Apple Pay Cash, and it works very much the same as Venmo.
And it was living right next to Apple Pay in my iPhone.
Once you’ve activated Apple Pay Cash, then you’ve just got to fund it, again much like Venmo.
And just like Venmo, you can transfer your Apple Pay Cash balance into your checking account.
You can also initiate an Apple Pay Cash payment by simply sending an iMessage.
(That almost feels a little too easy.)
One limitation to using Apple Pay Cash is both parties need to be in the iOS ecosystem.
Cash is So Yesterday
My alternate universe existence had quickly evaporated, and I was now armed with both Venmo and Apple Pay Cash and fully functional in the P2P payments game.
Sure, there are competing P2P money transfer systems out there, like Google Pay, Zelle, and Square Cash. But for now, I am satisfied with my choices.
(Which apps do you prefer? Any recommendations out there?)
I’m not so sure this particular form of financial enablement is a game changer for me right now, but at least I can play in the P2P payments’ pond when others insist.
And my toe-in-the-water mentality could change.
(It hasn’t been long since I’ve been actively using Apple Pay at stores instead of my credit card.)
But to simply have the capability to receive money from more ‘enlightened’ humans who want to pay me from their digital wallet…
I am now ready.
(P.S. I still accept cash.)