By Matt Morin
They still say that cash is king, but the current generation isn’t bowing down to his highness like the generations before. When it comes to sharing money with each other, Millennials are taking their cues from their favorite places – technology and social media.
Whether they are sending a thousand dollars overseas to help a family member or chipping in for gas on a road trip, the new generation has left cash behind for a new crop of tech companies that are changing the way we interact financially with each other.
And with new technology comes a plethora of start-ups that are vying for your attention, which is good, right? Having options means you can chose the best service or services to suit your needs. Here’s an in-depth look at which services offer the best options.
Best for Sending Small Amounts Quickly: Square Cash
Most online money transfer services make you go through a number of steps to send money. The process of creating usernames, linking and verifying bank accounts, and visiting websites or apps is fine if you are sending a large sum of money or setting up an ongoing payment, but what if you just need to send some quick cash?
Last year, the up-and-coming payment processing company Square jumped into the online money transfer world and shook things up. With the totally free Square Cash, sending money is as easy as sending an email. Simply compose an email, enter email@example.com into the Cc: field, and enter a dollar amount in the subject line. If it’s your first time using Square Cash, you will quickly receive an email asking you to enter a debit card number. That’s it. No accounts. No verification. Just a free, fast and easy way to send money.
The process is just as easy on the other end. Receiving money is as easy as getting an email and entering a debit card number. Rather than making users go to a website, link a bank account, and withdraw money, Square deposits funds directly into their account using the debit card information.
There are some limits on Square Cash. Users are restricted to sending $250 per week without verification. For a limit of up to $2,500 per week, they are required to take steps to verify their identity. And for now, Square Cash will only work for users within the U.S.
Best for Sending Money Socially: Venmo
If you love keeping your friends in the loop through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Venmo is the payment service for you. By combining easy money transfers through its smartphone app and a Facebook-like newsfeed displaying transfers between people in your network, Venmo has exploded in popularity among college-age users.
While it might seem invasive to some, Venmo has attracted a huge following of users who take pleasure sharing that they forgot their wallet at the bar and had to shoot ten bucks to a friend to cover cab fare. For those whose skin crawls at the thought of their transfers being made public, the social aspect of Venmo can be turned off.
Transactions funded by linking a bank account or a Venmo balance are free. If a user sends money using a credit card there is a 3% fee.
Sending Money Internationally: PayPal
PayPal is the GE of the online money transfer business: They are everywhere, and do everything. Like any jack-of-all-trades, they aren’t great at everything they do. The one trait that makes PayPal stand out is its reach.
By being first to the market, PayPal has had the time to develop relationships around the world. These ties allow its users to send money to anyone with an email address in more than 190 countries and regions around the world and conduct business in over 20 currencies. Whether you’re paying a freelancer in South East Asia for a job well done, or sending money to family overseas, PayPal is there for you.
Of course, this worldwide access and flexibility does not come without its costs. If you are funding a transaction with a linked bank account or your PayPal balance, fees range from 0.5% to 2%. If funded by a credit or debit card, these fees jump to 3.4% to 3.9%, depending on the amount of the transaction. When you initiate the transaction, you can choose to pay these fees, or pass them along to the person receiving the money.
Is Sending Money Electronically Safe?
While many regard the prospect of transferring money online as risky, the fact is that these websites live and die by their ability to keep users’ information secure. All three of these services use the industry standard SSL protocol with a 128-bit encryption key to secure all transactions. This measure ensures that all information transferred to and from the site is safely hidden from prying eyes.
Beyond encryption, these sites work hard to identify ways their customers’ information could be compromised and find ways to guard against attacks. They all maintain robust fraud departments, which are responsible for rooting out scams, hacking attempts and other underhanded activities.
As tight as the security is, the reality is that most incidents of hacking happen because users have not secured their accounts, fall prey to email phishing scams or download a virus, giving hackers access to their information.
On this front there are several things you can do to keep your money safe online.
- Always use complex and unique passwords for sensitive accounts. Your Venmo account should not have the same password as your email account, and neither one of them should be something simple, like Password1 or 123456.
- Never log on to sensitive websites on a public computer, or use them when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network.
- Do not respond to emails asking for login information or confirmation of financial information. Reputable companies will not ask for this information to be sent via email; they will ask you to go to the secure website, log in, and enter it there.
- If you want to really protect yourself, here are a few more tips on how to avoid identity theft.