Kristen Geil, a writer for an Internet marketing firm in Chicago, heard about Venmo for the first time two summers ago. Her new roommate, who had just arrived in town from New York, was raving about this app that allows users to send and receive payments over their smartphones. There was also a social media component to the app that made the mundane act of splitting bills kind of fun. She assured Geil that it was safe and reliable. Plus, there was no waiting around for checks to clear and no trudging to an ATM for cash. Geil agreed to give it a try.
After downloading Venmo onto her iPhone, she hooked it up to her bank account, synced it with her existing network of contacts from Facebook, and got started. The sign-up was easy, the interface clean and intuitive. “I was a little nervous at first,” says Geil, 25. “The idea of exchanging money via a mobile app seemed kind of sketchy.”