One pain point my wife and I had come across since moving to the US was the difficulty to pay rent and deposit for an apartment and other early stage logistics upon arriving, when we had no US bank account (You need an address to get a bank account).
We had to become familiar with Money Orders which seemed archaic. We quickly realized that wire transfers here are not the norm. Perhaps due to interbank fees. Also, withdrawal of cash from ATMs involve a fee of up to $5 per withdrawal. I always feel uncomfortable withdrawing cash from the back of a bodega or random bar in Brooklyn. Oh how I miss free withdrawals in France and the EU in general.
A financial transaction is very much an exchange of trust between two or more parties. Some of aforementioned transactions were by paper which is sent to a random PO Box in the middle of New Jersey, which tests ones trust capacity.
Today, my wife and I planned to meet at JFK to take a flight to New Orleans. Due to agenda conflicts, we had to make our separate ways out to the airport. Jennifer arrived at the terminal for the Air Train only to find she had given me her debit card so I could return a package to Petco. Suddenly she realised that she had no cash and no way of paying for a ticket. Given that she 1) had to meet me at security and 2) had little or no battery left it was quite a jam.
How could she pay for a ticket without cash or a debit card?
Simple. Venmo. Venmo is an mobile app that is connected to your regular bank account and permits one person to pay another person. Each person has a handle unique to themselves that allows one to search for a user and exchange money. This is a serious test of trust that people nowadays don’t think twice about!
As proof, let me go back to Jennifer and the ticket. She asked a random stranger if she could Venmo her the money if she bought her the ticket for the train.