What is the difference among the major money transfer mobile apps?
Venmo is a peer-to-peer (P2P) app that allows users to pay and request money from friends. It is owned by PayPal. It is an easy way to reimburse friends when you owe them money and don’t want to deal with cash or sending a check. Venmo is one of the most popular apps among peer-to-peer payment apps. Transfer speed for a standard transaction is 1-3 days. Instant transfers are 30 minutes or less. Sending money with Venmo has a 3% fee if a credit card is used but not if the transaction is funded by a bank account, debit card or Venmo balance. Venmo has a social networking component which has given many critics the willies. Wired magazine claims that “by default, all peer-to-peer Venmo transactions – aside from payment amount – are public, to everyone in the world.” Venmo does give users the ability to limit who can see their transactions before and after they are sent. If you have a Venmo account, click on the menu icon in upper left corner of screen, go to Settings, then go to Privacy. Their default setting is “Public – visible to everyone on the internet”. Yikes!! You can choose a different option on that page.
Square’s Cash App is similar to Venmo without the social networking piece. It allows users, with a few swipes, to send and receive money. It is easy to use and growing in popularity. Transfer time is 1-3 days if standard, instant transfers are an option. I started with Square but switched to Venmo when all of my children were using it. Square is making a comeback – it has been downloaded more times than Venmo in recent months and ranks higher than Venmo in the Apple App Store. One downside to Square is that it charges a 1.5% fee to instantly transfer a payment to your bank account. Venmo charges only 25 cents. If you don’t need the transfer to be instant, and the next business day is acceptable, neither app charges anything.
Apple Pay Cash is Apple’s Venmo equivalent but with better security. It requires two-factor authentication on your Apple ID before you can start making payments. Consumer Reports rated it the best peer-to-peer payment app mostly because of its security protections. It has the limitation that it can only be used to transfer money between Apple devices. It does not have a social network feed.
If apps do not appeal to you, your bank app might have a payment transfer service called Zelle. Zelle is a payment platform that allows users to digitally send and receive money as well as making safe and fast bank transactions. It can be used from your laptop or desktop computer, while Venmo is a mobile app only. Transfer speed for a standard transaction is 1-3 days. Instant transfers can be done in minutes. Zelle is owned by seven major banks – Bank of America, Branch Bank &Trust, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. This allows users to transfer money between bank accounts without an intermediary. It does not have a social network feed.
These four are the major players of the peer-to-peer money transfer apps. There are many others that are lesser known. Here are three I know of: Splitwise, a mobile app that helps users share expenses with others, Google Play which works with credit cards and U.S. bank accounts and has no fees to send or receive when person-to-person, and Popmoney which has no fees to receive payments or pay a request and a .95 cent fee to send or request funds and does not work with credit cards, only U.S. checking or money-market accounts.
P2P payment apps are considered safe to use when sending and receiving money from people you know and trust. Your information is protected with data encryption. Each app has unique features so do thorough research.