Why Do People Use Venmo? Check the Emojis.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / pressmasterThe classic use case for peer-to-peer payments is splitting a check — it’s straightforward, easy to understand, and the people doing it are young and having fun (probably).

But the problem is that the average P2P payment, according to JPMorgan Chase, anyway, is $300, rather expensive for a dinner bill.

Ron Shevlin, research director at Cornerstone Advisors, tweeted that the Chase figure probably includes account-to-account (A2A) payments, a presumably broader and larger category. Shevlin’s own figure for the average P2P payment, or more specifically, Venmo payment, is just $2.

James Wester, research director, worldwide payment solutions at IDC Financial Insights, believes the average value is considerably higher, more in Chase territory, presumably:

A recent blogpost from Matt Lenhard, CTO of the student loan marketplace LendEDU, examines half a million Venmo messages and accompanying emoji, but even this large sample fails to settle the argument. (Quartz did a similar study of 800,000 transactions last year.) Venmo’s distinctive feature, now widely copied, was the use of messages — and later emoji — along with payments. It should be understood that these are not always to be taken at face value.

Here is top emoji use by day of the week, for example:


It clearly points to payments for pizza on the weekend (point Shevlin) and the mysterious flying money during the week, which LendEDU suggests means bills (point Wester). If the house is rent, then rent and pizza are running neck and neck throughout the week, except Sunday, when no one pays rent.

(What does the octopus mean on Wednesday, and the eggplant on Sunday, you ask? Don’t be so old. Assume the worst — you’ll be right.)

Here are the top terms by day, again reflecting that pizza and rent occupy equal real estate on Venmo:


The full post in all its emojified glory is here. In terms of P2P volume, despite the widely disparate transaction sizes — do people reserve bank P2P for more mundane, emoji-less uses? — Chase’s P2P (called QuickPay) and Venmo are similar in total volume, or soon will be. Venmo transferred $4 billion in 2Q, while Chase says it transferred $20 billion in the last year, or $5 billion per quarter. But Venmo has grown 140% over the past year, while Chase pegs its year-over-year growth at 40%. In other words, P2P is blowing up, everywhere.

Is there an emoji for that?

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