Friends and money, they don’t always mix. But they have to: Exchanging money with friends is impossible to avoid. Drinks, taxis, dinners and cable bills are just some of the things for which we become financially indebted to each other, sometimes for substantial amounts (thanks, expensive City).
There are a few problems with this. Venmo, the mobile payment app from New York’s and Bit.ly’s Andrew Kortina, addresses two of them. First, it’s more reliable than memory and not as bulky as a dry erase board. But more importantly, it’s alleviating the awkwardness of those you-still-owe-me conversations during the period between the loan and reimbursement, and for recording transactions.
Venmo fans around the city have repeatedly told The Observer how much they love and depend on the app, and it seems to be the social element that’s made Venmo sticky. You can’t say “fuck you, pay me” to a friend. With Venmo, you send a personal note with each charge and payment, which you can share on Twitter or Facebook. That note might say “fuck you, pay me,” but it’s okay, because now it’s on the internet and it’s social media and those things are fun.
“We actually will not let you make a payment without including a personal note,” Mr. Kortina said. “We hope that all of the complexity, emotion, and feeling involved in a social gesture start making monetary transactions more personal, more fun, and simply a better experience that feels more like getting a gift or a high five than exchanging money.”
Patriot Nate Westheimer added “USA! USA! USA!” to the receipt when he paid Vin Vacanti back for tickets to a U.S.-Argentina soccer game. Podcaster Aaron Crocco tweeted, “Just used @venmo to pay my co-hosts for being awesome on my podcast. I wish EVERYONE used this service. Makes life SO much easier.” “Just paid rharwood for January friendship fee,” VC Ben Lerer invoiced.
Novelty is also a factor in Venmo’s delightability; we hear Jack Dorsey’s dongle is also pretty fun.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries