Hey, I’m Molly Wood, host of Marketplace Tech, here with a little update on Venmo, owned by PayPal. You know, the best and most fun and coolest payments app out there which is growing like wildfire. Venmo usage was up 97 percent in 2017 compared to the year before.
It has banks and other payment apps on the run. In fact, the big banks just launched Zelle to try to compete. But they’re missing Venmo’s secret sauce, the payment news feed. We’ve got dog emoji plus bowl emoji. I get it, because it’s dog food. Cat litter, sushi, babysitting, “Black Panther” tickets. Something about chicken, basketball and cars? A whole bunch of food-related emojis. Weed. Gondola Galentine’s. Oh, this is me actually; I have money. Just hang on a quick sec. Obviously, people are enjoying this social network part of it. Just know that this is a lot of data. Aran Khanna is a computer science student at Harvard. He actually wrote a little Chrome extension to track transactions and show us all how much data Venmo is collecting.
It’s a lot. And it can be very personal, who you’re friends with, where you go, maybe where you live, what you eat, who you’re buying presents for. Also know that Venmo is scanning these public transactions for words that could violate U.S. trade law or signal other illegal activity. And if the algorithms aren’t sure, it could end up freezing your payments or even your whole account.
It is unclear whether that scanning includes your clever emoji riddles. Hey, don’t yell at me. Look, I know it’s fun and I’m not trying to buzzkill Venmo. It’s the hippest thing going. I’m just saying: you should know what you’re getting into.