Mobile payments app offers a window on intimacy

Venmo iOS feed

The feed of the mobile payments app Venmo, as it appears on the iOS version of the app. 

Venmo is an app that allows users to exchange money easily with the click of a few buttons, which makes it particularly useful when it comes to everything from going to the movies to splitting the dinner check. The app is also a kind of social network, where both the parties involved in a transaction and the purpose of that transaction can be publicly available, sometimes in humorous ways. Freelance writer and author Chiara Atik recently published an article in Medium’s “Matter" on the topic.

One of the major issues with using more established platforms to see what people are doing is that users are pretty savvy at this point to social media — they know not to post about things they don’t want publicly consumed. However, Venmo currently exists outside of that frame of mind.

“Because Venmo has this utilitarian aspect to it, people are a little bit looser,” Chiara said. 

Even so, money has the power to be a large window into how people interact.

Said Chiara, "It’s a snippet of people’s relationships with each other."

However, as with Facebook and other social networks, this period won’t last. Once enough people are using the app — especially parents — most users will likely make their transactions private. 

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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