Venmo: Friend or Foe?

Photo by Meghan Reinhardt

When it comes to phone apps, there is always a new one seeking to gain our attention, claiming to make our lives easier in one way or another. This time, the up-and-coming app  that has accidentally wiggled its way into our lives covers what college students need the most. Drumroll please, and get ready to experience Venmo.

With the app’s quick, easy way to pay our friends and family through just the press of a button, how can we not love it? It makes sharing a meal or going out for drinks less of an annoying pain-in-the-butt. It also allows you to virtually send money to people who are too far away to physically give them cash or a check yourself. And, best of all, since Venmo is a social media form, we get to see that Margie paid Helen for buying her rash cream on our feed! How cool is that?

Venmo works by either putting money into the app itself or linking your bank account or credit card to the app. You click on who you want to send money to, type in the amount, and then press send. Within seconds your money is transferred into your friend’s account, and the job is done!

This all seems a little too easy, though. How can this be entirely safe? Venmo’s website claims to protect your financial information with their “bank grade security systems.” They go on to advise us to only pay people that we trust and be especially cautious.

Just as simple as it is to pay someone with the click of a button, could it be that simple for everything to go wrong with the click of a button, as well?

For Grace Zhang, a sophomore with a Division of Undergraduate Studies major, it did.

In Fall of 2014, Chipotle was having a one-day-only special where you could order food through Venmo and have it delivered to you.

“I got to pick my toppings and everything, and then Chipotle took the money directly through my account,” Zhang says.

However, when they didn’t show up with her order, things began to seem suspicious.

“When I tried to get my money back, they said ‘Sorry, it is too late,’ and that they had decided to stop using Venmo,” said Zhang. “I never got my money back.”

This doesn’t usually happen through normal purchasing procedures. If you don’t get what you paid for, you get your money back. That’s just simply how it works.

Zhang still uses Venmo, despite her falling out with the app.

“It’s convenient and I am definitely more careful about it, but I’m just not sure I entirely trust it.”

So the debate begins: Is Venmo worth the risk? Does convenience outweigh potential theft? The choice is yours.

Ask around. See if your friends are using it. Don’t get involved with anything financial related until you are positively, worth-risking-stolen-Chipotle sure. Whether you’re down to split the check or ultilize Venmo, play smart and play safe.

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