PayPal, Venmo, Apple Cash: Which mobile pay app is right for you?

clicks | 11 days ago | comments: discuss | tags: bitcoin cryptocurrency

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We tested the seven major peer-to-peer mobile payment apps, sending dollars to friends and family to see just how easy the apps were to use and, more importantly, how much information they shared with third parties. We tested everything from the first payment app PayPal to corporate cousin Venmo, the up and coming Cash app from Square, Apple, Facebook and Google's payment apps and Zelle, the bank consortium that offers payment within bank apps like Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Security firm Disconnect followed our transactions by monitoring them as they were made on an iPhone 11 Pro to watch the information flow. What it is: A PayPal-owned “social” network to pay friends. Numbers: 52 million active users Cost: Free to pay individuals, a 3% fee if used with credit cards. Your funds don't get to the account for three days unless you pay a 1% fee to speed it up. How it works: Link to your debit or credit card or bank routing and account number and pay friends electronically. Note: All payments are, by default, set to “public” so that everyone on the Venmo social network can see who you’re paying and what you’re buying unless you change the setting to friends only or private. What it says: “Venmo is designed for payments between friends and people who trust each other." What it doesn’t tell you: Every time you make a transaction on Venmo, it shares personal information with third-party firms. In our case, it sent our GPS location information and the name of the person we interacted with to data firms Braze, GIF sticker maker and anti-fraud company Pinpoint Secure Data Collector. Comment: “Venmo’s publicly available privacy policy and user agreement outline that we may share certain data with third-party service providers who assist us with parts of our business operations and providing services to users.” Our grade: Venmo is incredibly easy and convenient to use, and many people love it. But because it doesn’t respect the privacy rights of customers and because all transactions are by default sent to public, we give Venmo a D. Fine print: Data privacy: Why Venmo sent my personal info – and yours – to Braze Look out: Venmo scams: How to use a payment app without getting ripped off What it is: A payment app owned by Square, which many small merchants use to process retail purchases. Numbers: 24 million monthly customers Cost: Free, but when people pay you, it takes 1-3 business days for the money to go into your account. One-day payments cost 1.5% of the transaction. How it works: You need a debit card to link your account to Cash, or Bitcoin, to make payments. From the app, you can also invest in stocks or buy and sell Bitcoin. What it says: Cash is "the easiest way to send money, spend money, save money, and buy cryptocurrency." What it doesn't tell you: Customer service support can be an issue. Both the iOS and Google Play app stores have many low-rated reviews of Cash by customers frustrated over support issues. Cash sends customers to its Twitter support page or via a support menu in the app that takes you an e-mail option, with the promise of a reply within 24 hours. Security: Cash sent information about our test transaction to marketing companies. Comment: The Cash app "sometimes use third-party services to analyze anonymous data about app usage to help us fix bugs, identify app crashes, understand marketing campaigns, and improve the customer experience. These services are common in the industry and we choose products that are designed with customer privacy in mind.” Our grade: Easy to use, but if you don't have a debit card, you can't use Cash and dealing with customer service is not so smooth, so we give it a B. What it is: Apple's offer to pay people via iMessages. Numbers: Apple hasn't released any usage stats on the app. Cost: Free. How it works: First, you'll need an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch and know that you can send money only to people who also have Apple devices. Setting up Apple Cash is more convoluted than others. Associate your debit card (banking account numbers won't work) with the app (found in the Apple Wallet app, on the home screen) and then you need to add cash to the account. What it says: "Sending money is as simple as sending a message. Use your debit card with just a touch of your finger or by asking Siri." What it doesn't tell you: . If your friend uses a Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, you're out of luck. It works only on iOS. How it makes money: It can take 1-3 days to receive the funds. Instant Transfers charge 1% of the transaction . Security: Apple didn't share our information with third-party data firms. Grade: Great if you use iMessages and are on the Apple platform, not so if your friend has an Android phone. Also, setup is a pain. Instead of paying for a purchase, you have to first add more cash to your account. And some people may prefer to have their bank account linked instead of a debit card. Apple Cash gets a B. What it is: Google's digital pa...