The world is moving from paying in cash or swiping cards to using their smartphones to send money. There was PayPal already, yes, but there’s something about apps like Venmo that have spurred more people to check out monetary exchange options on their electronic devices. We now have a situation where big players like Google and Apple are stepping into the business with offers like Google Wallet and Apple Pay, and other established e-commerce platforms like Amazon too are coming up with options like Amazon Balance to make payments easier and promote sales of their services like Amazon Prime and others like it. But is venmo safe?
What do you think what is Venmo? Venmo account specifically has been the centre of much excitement ever since it came to the markets almost a decade ago. The app began as a modest money transfer app and now allows you to shop from stores, stay connected with friends and keep a track of how you spend your money. So far so good, right? I mean, being owned by PayPal does speak of reliability. But there’s more to consider when deciding whether or not it is safe.
There is little agreement between different people who have evaluated the app. The least we can agree on is that Venmo as an app is neither airtight in terms of security, nor is it exactly a disaster waiting to happen. Every feature has its ups and downs. Let’s see what some advantages and disadvantages it brings and how does Venmo work?
Venmo reviews in Security Perspective: The Good
The bare minimum any app can do to keep your information safe from hackers and cheats is included decent encryption to protect your data and activity. Venmo does it. There’s even a green bar to assure you of it. The most financial information you may have generated or shared with the app is encrypted, stored and protected. If not all of it, that is.
Then, there is decent enough account protection, secure password changing and the ability to revoke access from a particular device. This allows you to stop all activity that may be ongoing on that device. It is really helpful for when you think someone might have stolen your phone or other devices, or otherwise gained access to it. You just need to find how to use venmo.
Accompanying all these security arrangements is a staple warning by the company to avoid paying people through your account when you don’t know them. They discourage paying people you got in contact with doing business on Craigslist, for example, because you’re likely to not have met them before, and you’re probably not going to meet them again any other time. Gaining access to your account could give them access to your information which might result in crimes, and unknown people are generally difficult to trace or bring to justice.
With the last security warning, though, things become a bit muddier when it comes to evaluating the merit of using Venmo. If you can only pay your friends to have maximum security, does it mean one must only trade and share money within friend circles? You know that’s never going to be the case; you’re going to travel to a different city, or a different part of town, you’re going to meet new people or have old friendships fall apart. Does all of that become a security risk?
Venmo reviews in Security Perspective: The Bad
This is where things get truly confounding. Apart from the limitation of sharing your Venmo information with your friends who are neither in the least concrete social bondings nor an exhaustive set of people you’ll ever need to interact with your daily life, there are a bunch of other capabilities (or lack thereof) that calls its claims of security into question.
For starters, there is a social media-esque element to your Venmo app, where you can “Interact with friends beyond the payment”. It sounds great and fun and everything, but like all social media activity, it can constitute a trail of your daily activity. Why be concerned if you have nothing to hide? Because hiding from an online stalker or criminal out to get your personal information might be a pragmatic thing to do. But of course, things couldn’t be so bad, could they?
With Venmo only too eager to include more and more services to compete with rival services like Zelle (which need not be any more safer, by the way), as well as flagships like Apple Pay, there is much at risk of becoming associated with the information you submit to the app to gain in spending limit. With all this information becoming associated with your Social Security Number, Zip Code, and Date of Birth (just one of which are sufficient to narrow down on your identity), there are serious privacy concerns that people should be worried about but aren’t.
There is a way to hold the government accountable in case your information is leaked; in fact, the government holds itself accountable through its own mechanisms to ensure the citizen’s dignity is not toyed with. The same cannot be said about apps that have less to lose and might find it easy to abscond from justice should news about a leak of information or some other breach of trust surface.
What it all means
There is certainly a lot of good things about this app has that work in its favor. Multifactor Authentication, for example, is a really effective method to prevent unauthorised access to your account or your financial information. But there are really not as many security arrangements known that can prevent a moderately tech-savvy stalker from accessing your information from the app. Is that reason enough to doubt is venmo safe?
There is no reason to panic, no matter how well or poor you rate it’s security infrastructure. The app certainly works and has a bunch of great features to help you share expenses with friends, shop from established brands and do a lot more. Unfortunately, that is tied with the social media interaction element that many do not regard in the highest terms when it comes to evaluating security. There is certainly enough merit in the social media format to have made the app into a verb for the commoner, where “Venmo me” translates to sending one money via the app. But is it enough to trump the security concerns? The jury is still out. There is only general advice to be careful on the internet to offer.