Saturday, November 20, 2021

Still Life with Robin: Venmo me. No, Zelle me....

Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

by Peggy Robin

The last time I went out to lunch with a small group of friends, we had everything put on a single check. When it came time to pay the rather large amount at the end, one person proposed to put the whole thing on her credit card and have everyone else reimburse her for their share. 

Once we'd figured out the price per person, including the tip, one person said, "Can I Venmo that to you?"

"OK," the credit card payer said. "Here's how to find me on Venmo" -- and within a minute or less, the amount was transferred via the Venmo smartphone app. 

Then another person said, "I used to have Venmo but I stopped using it because the privacy controls are not so good. Now I'm using Zelle. Do you have Zelle? I could Zelle you my share." As it turned out, the credit card payer had Zelle, too, and so that transaction was also over in a minute or less. 

Now it was my turn. It seemed like using an app was the thing to do. I had only recently installed the Venmo app, so I proposed to pay that way. But my friend said, "Actually, I do prefer Zelle. If you have a Bank of America account, you already have Zelle, too." 

Sure enough, when I hit the Bank of America app on my phone, I saw the Zelle icon at the bottom of the screen. But for reasons unknown, I was unable to add the person as a payee. So she said she could send me a payment request. I gave her my user name but the request did not come through. I handed her my phone and she looked at the app and said there were still some things I had to do to finish the set-up and confirm that I was a user. I think I had to check my email on my phone and put in a confirmation code. I was waiting for the email but I have several email addresses and it turned out I had given the wrong one.

This was getting complicated, so she proposed switching back to Venmo. 

"I have an idea!" I said -- a light bulb switching on in my head. "I can pay you right now, no hassle. Just watch!" And with that I opened my wallet, took out the cash in a couple of twenties, and handed it over. Paid! And that took no time at all!

Cash. It's so....retro. But at least you don't need to wait for a confirmation code to use it.....though the next time I'm asked to Zelle someone an amount, now I know I'm set up and good to go. And I probably will pay the cashless way. Unless, of course, the next time I'm asked to used a cash-free payment app to send money to someone, there's yet another app I need to download and learn to use. That's the thing about these online ways: there's always a new app around the bend!


Still Life with Robin in published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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