Why Venmo is a Win - for You

Last year we did this Shakespeare thing. It was cool. Don't knock Shakespeare - especially when it's three guys doing all his plays.  

Oddly enough, it was three of us that had seen 'The Complete Works' before, decided to see it again, and figured we could invite a few friends. We ended up with a group of 30.

Purchasing the tickets was a blast: "Hey, I'd like to order 20 tickets." 

The next day: "Yeah, I called yesterday and bought 20 tickets, can I add 2 to that order?" 

A few days later: "I was wondering if I could add another 4 tickets to my order of 22?" 

A week or so: "How about make that an even 30 - okay? Oh, and I get an extra ticket for large groups? Yeah, we'll probably use that."

As you can imagine, getting all the funds together was amazingly fun as well. Cash here, checks there, and even Paypal and Amazon.

Did you know you can send money with Paypal and Amazon using text messaging. You can, and it's cool. You know that time where no one has cash and you're trying to split the bill? Just text people the money. Easy as that. 

Well, there are a few catches. You need to setup your account to send money via text. But I guess that's not too hard. But there's only other problem.

They charge you.

That's right. If someone pays using a credit card - you're charged. Even though I had a separate PayPal account for business, and all Shakespeare funds were sent to my non-business, completely personal PayPal account - I still paid transaction fees on every payment. Because everyone funded the payment with a credit card.

Really? Who keeps a PayPal balance.

So much for splitting up that dinner check. It's cool to tip the server, but tipping PayPal too? Not so cool. I'm not quite sure how Amazon handles things, but from what I remember, it wasn't a smooth process either.

Yeah, I understand that card transactions have fees, and they're just passing them on to me. I'm not saying it's unfair - just that it makes 'paying by text' unattractive in most of the situation where it would be useful.

Enter Venmo.

They do the pay by text thing too. You can even pay by twitter user name. And they don't charge individuals to use a credit card. It's 'pay by text' that is actually useful, and easy to use. 

The interface is dead simple. You can pay a phone number, charge a phone number -- and here's an interesting feature, 'trust' a Venmo user. Trusted users can take money from you're account (you can review and reject), making splitting that check (or charging for that domain you registered for someone) even easier.

Venmo is currently in beta, but if you need an invite, just let me know. Yeah, I have connections. But more importantly, invites.

Tim Lytle [03/25/10 12:54:30] | 4 Comments | Stream