Mobile payment app Venmo is fast becoming a favorite tool for would-be psychologists and aspiring private investigators. Aside from helping with splitting bills, tech-savvy people have found out that it can be used to keep tabs on crushes, exes, and partners.
More Than Sharing Bills
Venmo is a peer-to-peer payment app that provides a mobile payment service processing more than $35 billion in payments a year (as per last year). It is an easy way to split dinner costs amongst friends or bills amongst roommates. People have recently begun using it to sleuth on other people, at times even uncovering infidelity. In fact, some individuals have claimed that it is a better app for watching people as compared to social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook.
Spying on a Cheater Using Venmo
Spying on someone using Venmo is possible because transactions are public by default. The public payment activity then provides an unfiltered paper trail that can be scrutinised to find out what is going on in someone’s life.
People who prefer Venmo for spying on possible cheaters state that they like it because it allows for a real peek on someone’s private business. Unlike with social media wherein people only post what they want other people to see, Venmo allows someone to see what a person is spending money on and can give out clues regarding what the person is doing. In an example, a Venmo user found out her boyfriend has been cheating on her when she saw that he has been spending money on pizza, a game called Fortnite, and sending regular payments to a particular girl who turned out to be someone he is spending time with.
Venmo’s Not So Secret, Secret
Venmo has had a social component since it launched in 2009. It allows users to see their friends’ transactions plus some strangers’ activity when they check their feed via the app. No exact details are shared but the feed shows who someone is sending regular payment to plus some information if typed on the text field.
Venmo spokeswoman Erin Mackey says that the social feed is Venmo’s secret to keep people logging in and checking the app. People simply wanted to see what their family, friends, and partners are up to. Some people even make it a point to use Venmo for payments if they want to appear a certain way to their circle of friends; for instance, as a way to indirectly tell people they are on a date or going to watch a concert.
The Federal Trade Commission accused Venmo in 2017 of misleading users regarding having to change two separate privacy settings to activate real privacy of their transactions. A settlement has been reached and now Venmo has three options or levels of controls for their privacy.
What can be learned here is that apps like Venmo can be of great help to some people who know their way around technology to find out of a partner is a cheater or not. At the same time, it can be a privacy risk for people who are public figures or may have a stalker.