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For millennials, splitting the bill with the Venmo app

Venmo can be used to split a restaurant

Venmo can be used to split a restaurant tab rather than using cash. Credit: iStock

Q. What is Venmo? College kids seem to use the word as a verb, as in “Can you Venmo me?”

A. Venmo is an app. When users download it, they can then link a bank account and/or credit card and use it to send money to other Venmo users through their smartphone or computer at Sending money from a linked bank account is free; sending money from a linked credit card triggers a 3 percent charge.

Millennials use the app as a way to pay each other back borrowed funds, or as a way to split a restaurant, cab or other bill. “Inherently, Venmo has been about peer-to-peer interaction,” says Pablo Rodriguez, director of global consumer initiatives at PayPal, which owns Venmo. “It removes the hassle of writing checks or using cash to transfer money.” For instance, if friends are out to dinner and one person pays, everyone else can send their required amount to the payer’s Venmo account electronically instantly or at a later time. Because the payer sends a payment “request” to the debtor, it can take the awkwardness out of asking to be paid back, Rodriguez says.

Parents can also send money to a child via Venmo, and the child can transfer that money into a checking account or leave it in the Venmo account. Rodriguez describes Venmo as a “digital wallet.” The app was launched in 2009; in January, it logged more than $1 billion transferred in one month, Rodriguez says.

There’s an optional social aspect; users can post on a social feed. And they can attach emojis and notes to their paybacks.

Venmo is only available for U.S. bank accounts and cellphones. The company also is testing a pilot program to allow users to pay for meals and goods to merchants directly from Venmo accounts.

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