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What is Venmo? Everything you need to know

I realized Venmo hit a tipping point a few years ago when the street musician in the park by my office — instead of having a hat on the ground to collect bills — had a sign with his Venmo address. Today, the financial platform has more than 60 million users across the U.S., and its meteoric rise has made it the person-to-person payment app of choice for not just Millennials but all generations.

Like any good tech startup, Venmo was created by a pair of college roommates trying to make their own lives easier. In this case, one of them owed the other money and thought, Wouldn’t it be great if I could pay you back through my phone instead of dealing with cash? And that, in a nutshell, is what Venmo is all about.

Venmo is an app that allows you to pay and request money from your friends. Think splitting a lunch bill or cab fare or the rent. It’s super simple to use, and on top of that it’s social — Venmo features a stream showing everyone’s transactions — and even kind of fun, with the use of emojis to indicate what a payment is for.

(Image credit: Venmo)

Also like any good tech startup, Venmo has expanded on its initial use. Today, you can use it to shop at any website that takes PayPal (which acquired Venmo in 2013), and you can even get a physical Venmo Mastercard Debit Card to pay for things in person or get cash from your Venmo account at an ATM. Venmo’s newest product is a Visa-branded Venmo Credit Card, currently only available to select customers. 

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