Venmo (venmo.com) is a personal cash transfer service owned by Braintree Payments and PayPal. Launched in June 2012, the service enables users to make direct bank (ACH) transfers or card payments to one another using a mobile phone app. Bank and debit transfers are free through Venmo, but the service charges a per-transaction fee on credit card payments. Venmo is similar in many ways to Square Cash or PayPal, but its mobile phone functionality and free transfer service make it one of the most convenient, low-cost options for cash transfers currently available.
The process for sending funds through Venmo is simple. First, the user opens the app using either a fingerprint or PIN and enters the username, phone number, email address, or Twitter handle of the person they wish to pay or charge. The user then specifies the type of transaction via a Pay/Request button on the bottom of the phone screen. Then, the user enters the amount to be paid or charged and provides a brief note describing the transfer (similar to the “Memo” line on a paper check). After the user initiates the payment, confirmation is sent via email to both parties.
Venmo is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, and the service may also be accessed through the company’s website. Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail are listed as the co-founders of Venmo.
- Peer-to-peer cash transfer
- Next-day deposits
- Push, email, and text notifications for account usage
- Fingerprint and PIN verification
- Remote account deactivation
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Venmo is simple to install and use, and it allows users to send payments to one another for free. It processes payments within one business day, and it allows users to maintain a Venmo Balance if they’d prefer not to cash out their funds immediately after receiving them. Venmo is available to anyone, and its mobile app is compatible with most modern smartphones. The initial processing limit on Venmo payments for an unverified user is $299.99 per week, but this can be increased to $2,999.99 per week if the user provides either the last four digits of their SSN or an attached Facebook account. Overall, the app is exceedingly simple to use and free for most payment types.
Venmo currently has a 4.6 out of 5 rating in the Google Play Store and a 4.5-star rating in the Apple App Store. Positive reviews praise its utility as a convenient payment option among friends and its low cost.
Although Venmo encrypts payments and processes them on its own secure servers, the app is technically only as secure as a user’s phone and Venmo PIN. As a precaution against theft, Venmo allows users to remotely deactivate their accounts on devices that they believe to be compromised. The app’s processing limits also restrict potential damages to either $299.99 or $2,999.99 for a fraudulent transaction.
Outside of potential security issues, Venmo does not receive a large number of negative reviews for any one specific problem. Some users complain of having payments frozen, but in most cases these users were using the app to conduct business transactions. Other users complain of payments getting lost or delayed as a result of account setup difficulties. Venmo is intended only for personal use in its current form. Other complaints include annoyance with the app’s social media integration and isolated customer service issues, including complaints related to Venmo’s lack of live customer support. Venmo support can only be contacted via an online form, which severely limits users’ ability to reach a representative in a timely fashion.
The company also has a “B” rating with the Better Business Bureau due to 54 total complaints in the past three years (up from eight at the time of our last review). Thirty-five of these complaints are classified as product or service problems, 12 are related to billing or collection, five have to do with delivery, and two are considered advertising or sales issues. Venmo has successfully resolved 13 of these complaints, while the remainder either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final evaluation from the merchant. According to the details of most of these complaints, many of the complainants attempted to use Venmo for business transactions and found that their accounts were frozen as a result. Merchants should understand that Venmo is intended for personal use only, so their accounts will likely be frozen if they attempt to use Venmo as a merchant account.
Although Venmo has seen a large increase in BBB complaints over the last year, it has also grown in popularity by a comparable amount. Furthermore, many complainants appear to be in violation of Venmo’s terms of agreement by their own admission. These factors mitigate the severity of the complaint increase to some degree.
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Rated out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Phillip Parker
Updated on 2015-07-08
Considering its low cost, easy installation, widespread compatibility, short transfer time, and generally positive reviews, Venmo is a clear frontrunner among peer-to-peer payment services. The service’s only potential security issues are limited to instances of device theft, and Venmo can remotely disable an account at a user’s request. Venmo has seen increased complaints related to fund holds and frozen accounts, but many of these complaints appear to be filed by people who knowingly misused the app. The app also suffers from a lack of live support. Venmo is not intended as a way for businesses to accept payments at this time, but the company is said to be investigating possibilities on this front.
This review was originally published on 4/16/14 and was last updated on 7/8/15.
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