'Penny Poking' Is a Thing and We Love It

'Penny Poking' Is a Thing and We Love It



Last year I did something I'd never done before: I opened my Venmo app and, rather than using it to pay back my roommate for Seamless or remind my friend she still owed me concert money, I sent $15 to my college BFF just because.

It was her birthday and I was feeling particularly sad I couldn't celebrate with her in London (where she lives ... because she's cool like that). So I Venmoed her enough to cover the cost of the extra-dirty martini I would have bought her had I been there in person.

Turns out, this is a thing. Close to 40% of Americans send small sums via peer-to-peer payment systems just to say "hey," or, sometimes, "thank you." It's a phenomenon that Venmo has dubbed "penny poking," because unlike my relatively extravagant $15, these affectionate transfers ring in at less than $5.

This is all according to a recent survey by PayPal, which has owned Venmo since 2013. They queried 1,000 peoples ages 18 to 55, who also revealed that peer-to-peer payment platforms comprise more than one-third of all reimbursements between friends.

And these transfers really do add up: The average American sends more than $1,500 to friends in the course of a year. For millennials, the number is unsurprisingly higher: a whopping $2000.

The most common reason for using these platforms is, you guessed it, repayment for food and meals.

So if you've got a friend who's been exceedingly nice to you of late, maybe send her some pocket change along with a heartfelt thank-you message and some emojis to let her know you care.


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