Venmo, Apple Pay, online payments gaining popularity among college students

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Today’s college students send money through the cyber world for anything from ramen to rent.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, mobile payment in the United States through services like Venmo, Apple Pay, PayPal and Google Wallet are expected to reach $90 billion in 2017.

Many students dread the first or last of each month because of large rent payments. Some struggle withdrawing the exact amount of cash needed or rummaging through their apartments for checkbooks.

For students like Jennifer Anderson, a senior from Richmond, Virginia, majoring in recreation management, paying rent consists of a 15-second process on her smartphone through the application Venmo.

Electronic payment through apps like Venmo has gained popularity, particularly in recent years. Venmo allows a person to join a network of people and businesses that can send and receive payments from each other mostly for free, as long as the person has a major U.S. bank account.

Venmo asks for bank account information and, in many cases, Facebook information. Users can immediately pay others who use the app.

“I have heard that a lot of people are using it, and I think it’s something more convenient. I like it,” Anderson said.

Once a payment is made, a notification appears in the news feed so other Venmo friends can see unless the privacy settings are changed. Venmo says the app is used more commonly for smaller items like splitting dinner at a restaurant, gas money and birthday gifts.

Heather Kelley is the property manager of Ellsworth Properties in Provo and has been using Venmo to receive payments since Fall 2014.

“I find it easier for the tenants,” Kelley said. “I find that people pay more on time because the app is right there on their phone.”

But such a movement to make everything electronic doesn’t come without some concern. Venmo doesn’t require a password, so anyone with access to the phone can make and receive payments. Apple Pay requires the thumbprint of the credit card holder in order to authorize a payment.

Melissa Larson, assistant teaching professor at the Marriott School of Accountancy, agrees that these methods are signs of a permanent trend in the electronic and cyber world of instant payments and less need of wallets or purses. However, Larson said with regards to Venmo, “I would not trust it yet because of internal control. I would want a more established name first. I’m more comfortable operating though my bank.”

Elliott Miller
A student pays for gas money electronically through Venmo. Venmo is a money exchange application that can be used for both small and large transactions. Some are concerned about giving away personal information through the cyber world. (Elliott Miller)

Accounting Career Services Director Bill Brady, of the Marriott School of Business, agreed and said, “I would wait until we have seen it go through enough cycles to determine whether or not it is hackable. I would like to see studies and research on potential fraud.”

Other students refuse to give bank information to a third party. Carly Davis, a sophomore from Highland, majoring in advertising, said, “I would rather trust Apple Pay than Venmo. I am more concerned about security issues over convenience.”

Kelley said these forms of electronic payments may not fully replace other forms of monetary transactions. “I feel it’s (Venmo) more a complement than a replacement. There are times where I still want to use a credit card or cash,” she said.

As the technology is still relatively new, opinions differ on the concerns of safety, accessibility and trust in these third parties that are taking over bank account information. More and more places where common student interactions take place, like grocery stores and juice shops, accept methods like Apple Pay.

“We are going in that direction whether it’s Apple Pay or some other party that makes it big. It’s trendy and provides instant movement of money. I think we will start to see it in larger and more prominent transactions in the near future,” Brady said.

While this electronic payment trend seems to be spreading at a rapid pace, only time will determine if these methods will replace traditional forms of payment.

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