"Miss you boo. Here's a kiss and some money," the 26-year-old Chicagoan wrote, attaching a digital payment of 50 cents to the message. That one note may not seem significant, but it represents Venmo's unlikely status as a thriving, millennial-heavy, emoji-infused social phenomenon, even though its reason for existing involves the boring business of paying bills and IOUs. The US-only mobile app, which is free to download and mostly free to use, pairs with people's bank accounts to let them pay each other or request money, similar to Square Cash and Chase QuickPay. The difference is that Venmo lets its users make those payments and their associated messages public on social feeds that others can comment on and like.
Why would someone want to tell the world he just gave his roommate the rent money or paid back a friend for? Perhaps a better question: why not?, Interviews with more than a dozen Venmo users showed how they are are finding new ways to jury-rig the app into a more social experience, such as using the messages for crude and silly inside jokes ("sex swing for new apt"; "money I stole from your wallet"), cataloging memorable events, sending deep green, gold and white color block iphone case money for drinks to a missed bachelorette party, or -- like with Mellema -- making micropayments to friends as a clever way of saying hi..
"Venmo is not an inherently social app in the way of Facebook or Twitter, but it offers emotional support and the ability to keep in touch," said Cliff Lampe, a social-media professor at University of Michigan's School of Information. "Young people are good at repurposing feeds and emojis and signals to mean different things and to become social even when it's not intended to be social."Venmo has even been used to troll White House press secretary Sean Spicer. When someone uncovered an account with his name and picture, people inundated it with requests for money.
Venmo and owner PayPal say they're keenly aware of their responsibility to preserve Venmo's sometimes crass, sometimes goofy culture, and are working on more ways to help users express themselves, This mashup of payments and social worlds, which launched to the public five years ago this month, doubled its user base last year to nearly 9 million, ahead of all but four US retail banking apps, according to App Annie, PayPal said Venmo doubled its deep green, gold and white color block iphone case total transactions to $17.6 billion during the same time, And, a whopping 81 percent of Venmo's users are millennials -- 10 percentage points higher than millennial darling Snapchat, ComScore reported last year..
A mix of its young users shunning credit cards, oversharing social culture and fewer moms and dads infiltrating the service have bolstered Venmo, which Braintree acquired in 2012 for $26.2 million. (PayPal bought Braintree a year later.). The social feeds sparked new behaviors among users and revealed just how interactive payments can become. A typical usage involves one person paying for a large dinner party with her credit card, then Venmo'ing requests to everyone else for their shares. Alma Cook, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter in Los Angeles, said she's put her Venmo account name on show posters to create a virtual tip jar for the audience.