Venmo sees popularity among students
Venmo, the PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payments application, is now estimated to have around seven million users, including many Dartmouth students. For these students, using Venmo has its trade-offs.
Emilie Baxter ’21 said she downloaded the application right before matriculating to the College.
“I found out about Venmo through my friends,” Baxter said. “Before, there wasn’t as really much of a need for it, but I guess when you’re on your own, it’s a little more important, and I figured that I should get it before I came to college.”
Since coming to Dartmouth and using Venmo, some first-years, such as Claire Campbell ’21, have encouraged their peers to get the application on their phone so they can use a unifying platform to make payments.
“I’m going to continue using [Venmo] forever,” Campbell said. “I make all my friends get it because if I need to pay you, I’m using Venmo. It’s just easier if you need to spot someone for money, and you say that ‘I’ll Venmo you.’”
While some first-years are still adjusting to using the application, a few returning students, such as Catherine Zhao ’20, have better assessed the advantages of Venmo on campus, frequently quoting its convenience as one of the main reasons that they decided to use the application.
“I feel like Venmo is definitely useful, especially [at Dartmouth], because if you don’t have Venmo, it’s an inconvenience,” Zhao said. “Not a lot of people use cash anymore. So, I would say I use Venmo primarily, but I do carry around cash with me just in case. Nonetheless, Venmo is my primary form of spending.”
Both Zhao and treasurer of Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity Manmeet Gujral ’18 have found themselves rarely spending cash because the College does not have any on-campus automated teller machines. Because using cash is an increasingly uncommon form of payment among college students, Gujral said that he has found himself using Venmo more frequently.
“I guess when I came to college, I was interacting with more people who had [Venmo], and also, the way you spend money in college is a little different,” Gujral said. “So, a basic example of [Venmo use in] college is pretty much every time you order pizza, you just split [the cost] on Venmo. It’s a much more convenient way to spend money on campus because you are normally using DBA. Particularly in Hanover, it’s kind of a pain to go get cash, so it’s just really easy to split [payments] when someone has a Venmo.”
While some students may use the application to split a check for dinner or order pizza, Venmo’s presence on campus has also spread to increasingly formal contexts. Students use the application for their Greek houses or other extracurricular clubs with approval from the Office of Greek Life or the clubs’ respective administrative organizations.
“Starting this term with approval from the Office of Greek Life, I’m doing a lot of my reimbursements through Venmo because it’s a lot easier than just writing a check to each individual person, and people kind of prefer it, because no one feels like going to going to the Bank of America to deposit a check,” said Gujral, who manages his fraternity’s financials.
Co-president of Christian Union Jeffrey Gao ’18 said that Venmo’s quick transaction time makes him more willing to use his credit card for club events because he knows that he will get reimbursed quickly, as opposed to the long waiting time for a reimbursement by check.
Although some students say Venmo helps facilitate monetary interactions among students and organizations, Gao also expressed hesitancy to use the program.
“I think Venmo is good because it makes it easier to split the costs, but I think it’s still a little unstructured because I feel like it’s very easy to forget to pay someone or request something,” Gao said. “And I’m always so scared that it’s so unsafe to connect my bank account ... to my Venmo. Like every time I get paid, I immediately transfer it to the bank account.”
For international students who have not heard of or used Venmo before, the widespread usage by most other students can present difficulties. In order to create a Venmo account, the user must have a U.S. phone number. A U.S. bank account is required to transfer money or make payments exceeding your Venmo balance. Therefore, a new user cannot join Venmo unless they create a U.S. bank account. Some students, such as Byul Ha ’21, have seen people who experience difficulty paying their friends because of these restraints.
“I think it could be more inconvenient for [international students] to start with because people can’t [make payments over a] Venmo [balance] without a bank account in the U.S.,” Ha said. “But also, Dartmouth does a pretty good job in encouraging people to make bank accounts when you get here.”