When I am with fellow students, we mainly use Venmo. To split a restaurant bill, a grocery receipt, or gas money, I always hear “Hey, what’s your Venmo?” or “This is you, right?” after using their phone number to find their Venmo account. I can not think of one time I have sent someone my age money through CashApp or Zelle. From my experience, it’s the FinTech app we use most (aside from our bank apps). This past weekend, I used Venmo to split renting a car, pay my friend back for buying my movie ticket, and receive money from my roommate for her part of our groceries. However, I did not use CashApp or Zelle once.
Let’s be honest, FinTech companies are marketing to me and my demographic daily. We are after all raised on digital platforms, but it doesn’t mean we blindly trust apps with our money. We see others use certain platforms which makes them more trustworthy and the convenience of having lots of people in our age group already using it helps guide our decision to download Venmo.
The concept in itself is weird. I mean that Venmo in particular is a strange platform. You can see when people you barely know send money to other people. There is an option to turn this off, but many people leave it on. I think many college students use it because of its popularity and social aspects. Instead of asking a friend to download CashApp or use Zelle, it just makes sense for me to use Venmo too. Venmo is even used as a verb. “I’ll Venmo you right now.” That’s how popular it is.
Plus, Venmo is like a social media app in many ways. If you sync your contacts to Venmo you can see when someone makes a public transaction with the memo that they write. Some people will just write the food like “Starbucks” or “pretzel,” but sometimes they will put an emoji or joke. These memos can be liked and commented on.
I do not think most people look at public transactions often, but weirdly many people do leave their transactions public. Most people my age seem to just check their Venmo feed when they’re bored or after they just made a transaction themselves. However, my brother tends to not reply to texts or calls so one time, I checked my Venmo feed to see what my brother was up to. He had paid his friend for something an hour ago, so I knew he was alive. Others use this to see if their partner is cheating on them. Yes, they really do!
What Zelle Should Change
1. Make using Zelle through its app easier.
Zelle does have an app, but using Zelle within your regular banking app is heavily marketed by the banks themselves. I have only ever used Zelle through my bank’s app. When I downloaded Zelle, it directed me back to my bank’s app. Having to go to my banking app, then find Zelle to make a payment is cumbersome and a little mysterious—is Zelle a company or just a product? Who do I contact if there is a problem with a transaction Zelle or my bank? It just doesn’t feel as intuitive as Venmo.
2. Make it easier to find users.
One plus of Zelle is that users do not need to make a Zelle account to use it. This also means it can be harder to find users. You have to know a user's phone number or email to send money. I have only used Zelle to transfer money back and forth to my Mom. When sending large amounts of money, Zelle is nice because it does not charge a fee. On the other hand, after typing her number in, it did not give a confirmation that I was sending money to the correct person. For example, by saying her name or username. I did not get confirmation that it was her, so I double and triple-checked that I typed her number correctly—and this is my Mom!
What CashApp Should Change
1. Not much. Incorporate aspects of social media.
After Venmo, CashApp is my second most used mobile payments app. I use it to send or receive money between my parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, and even grandparents. Unlike Zelle, CashApp will confirm a user’s identity if they have an account when you send money and you can find a user with a username, email, or phone number. The only thing that sets Venmo apart from CashApp for me is that Venmo is used more with people my age. To get people my age, I think incorporating aspects of social media could make it more popular.