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A few months ago, I organized a gift (from 30 women) for a friend’s big birthday. So I sent an email with the amount owed and my address. Five minutes later, a woman emailed back: “Can I Venmo you?”
Could she? I’d never used the mobile-payment service, but my kids do. I downloaded the app, opened an account (in no time at all) and sent a second email: “Or, if you’d prefer, you can Venmo me.” I still received checks and cash, but most went the electronic route — and collecting from a large group was never easier.
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Venmo is a cash-transferring system sometimes called a digital wallet; it’s owned by PayPal. According to research from Finder.com, 43 percent of Americans have used a digital wallet in the past year. And those numbers will likely grow with the recent launch of Zelle, from bank-owned Early Warning Services.
Are the systems safe? Generally, yes. Both use state-of-the-art tool s and encryption to keep your data — and cash transfers — secure. The drawback? Consumers generally spend more money overall with digital wallets than they do with credit cards, debit cards or cash, says the Finder.com study.
Venmo vs. Zelle
Venmo: Operates through the Venmo app you download to your mobile device.
Zelle: Operates through apps of participating banks and credit unions.
How it Works
Venmo: Transferring is easiest if both parties are on the app. You can “request” or “pay” other users and add a note or emoji as the transaction description. You can also send money to family and friends in the U.S. using their cellphone number or email.
Zelle: Users who have accounts at a participating bank can send money to anyone for whom they have a cellphone number or email address. Recipients who don’t bank with Zelle partners can claim their money by signing up at clearxchange.com.