Somewhere Between Bitcoin and Cash

PayPal and Venmo: Non-Traditional banking says time and fees

No doubt you have heard of PayPal – and if you have not then read on for a brief introduction. Then there is Venmo, owned by PayPal, which gives you the ability to make payments even more easily in the digital world. Think: potentially saving time and money in a secure way.

cash graph

This is NOT an article about Bitcoin, the non-cash virtual currency which, in the graphic above, would be on one far end of the spectrum (above, far right) …with coin and paper “cash money” on the other end (above, far left).

Somewhere in the middle (closer to cash) are credit cards, PayPal, and now Venmo. Nearly anyone can attest to how easy credit cards make life, from automating monthly bills to shopping in stores and online. But credit cards still involve credit card authorization for each transaction. PayPal solved this challenge when it came along around 20 years ago, making it easier to pay via either their “one-click” mechanism or using a pre-authorized credit card within PayPal’s secure system. Businesses, charitable organizations and individuals benefited greatly when it became easier to make and accept near-instant payments using PayPal.

But wait! This is where Venmo enters the picture. Venmo, a division of PayPal, has grown to possess even more digital users than nearly every major US bankThe ease – and lack of fees for numerous types of money transfers – has made Venmo super-popular among younger consumers (there is a social media component as well). The ability to fund a Venmo account with a debit card (mostly free) or credit card mostly does away with the need to deal with a full-service bank. Although funding a Venmo account with a “real” bank account is easy and still mostly free. “Mostly free” means that transactions not requiring instant cash-out to a bank account are free. One other note: Venmo account holders currently must live in the U.S.

You may be perfectly satisfied with using checks and cash for simple transactions. I am mostly in that camp myself. And you may be horrified at the thought of non-traditional banking and payments. However, in this world of saving time and annoying bank fees – or even wanting to get paid back from a friend or family member – it may become necessary to have another option than simply cash or check.

My reason for highlighting digital payments such as PayPal and Venmo is that, similar to cell phones and email, most adult consumers – or at least their children and grandchildren – may all eventually be operating in the digital Venmo world. Security features are the name of the game – and as security continues to advance, so will safety and ease of entry into this non-bank world of payments.

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