Use Text Messages To Exchange Money Between Friends

textingThe Problem.
From texts to emails to playing your friends at Scrabble, it feels like you spend all of your time with your cell phone. Wouldn't it be great if there were a way to pay your friends back through your phone? (Cash is so 20th century.)

The Solution.

Exchange money electronically using your phone, in a way that's much classier than a cumbersome PayPal transfer. Send money back and forth with a simple text message, through a service that deducts from your bank account or credit card. That way, your friend can pay you back for that movie ticket while you’re still in line...even if she's out of cash.

The Action.
Check out Venmo, a free service that lets you transfer money via normal text messages. You don’t have to download an app, so you’re in the clear if you have an old-fashioned candy bar phone. Paying someone is as easy as texting: “Pay Jessy 30 for electric bill.” Charging is as simple as: “Charge Caroline 11.50 for Avatar ticket.” The funds are transferred securely from one account to another, so you don't have to deal with the un-classy issue of fraud or theft.

Venmo has the potential to change the way that we laypeople handle money, and not just with each other. The company has already begun to set up relationships with some street vendors; in the future, you might be able to text message a company, instead of forking over your precious singles for a forkful of chicken and rice.

Throughout all of this, you never even have to visit the website. That is, after the first time, when you'll create a profile and link a bank account or credit card. You can credit your Venmo account directly from your bank account so that you can pay friends, or you can decide to trust certain friends with the ability to remove money from your accounts. Of course, you don't have to "trust" anyone (the real way or the Venmo way), and you'd never have to hand over direct access to your funds to a company or street vendor.

Some Drawbacks.
Venmo is still in private beta testing, which means that it’s a new concept. As a result, its website isn’t as user-friendly and intuitive as it could be. We found it a bit difficult to find our contacts in order to “trust” them, and the website took some getting used to. All the same, once you’ve set your account up, you can do almost everything else via text message.

Also, note that you can pay with just a credit card, but you have to set up a bank account in order to get your money out from Venmo. Once you do, the funds will be deposited directly.

An Invitation Just For LearnVest.
Since the service is still in the testing stages, it’s currently invitation-only. To try it out, visit Venmo and use the invite code, “learnvest22.”

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