Almost two decades back, the emergence of online social platforms like Six Degrees, Friendster, and MySpace shaped a new façade of human interaction for most of us. At about the same time, eBay, Paypal, and Amazon were busy reforming the world of trade, opening up myriads of possibilities for the millions of individuals involved in online ordering and selling. Right now, what we are witnessing is an interesting combination of social media and electronic payment, all executed in the most unexpected, yet pragmatic fashion.

Peer-to-Peer payment apps are uncomplicated and inexpensive

Online payment giant Paypal launched its peer-to-peer payment app Venmo in 2009. It has furthered an idiosyncratic way of facilitating payments- with emojis! Transactions even stack up on a feed similar to those present on most of today’s online social platforms. Meanwhile, social media sites like Snapchat and Facebook have introduced the possibility of effectuating money transfers within their messages services, making a transaction as easy as texting a friend. And finally, in more recent news, Skype announced that its users would soon be able to make money transfers through the app, while Apple stated that it would incorporate transaction facilities within their messaging apps.

Using most of those peer-to-peer services is incredibly easy. Normally, signing up for this type of service requires one to register, prior to linking the app to a bank account or debit card. Transferring money after those two initial steps is then simple. In most cases, all you have to do is to:

– Search the name of your recipient within a contact list in the app that you are using
– Enter the dollar amount of the transaction as well, and in some cases, an accompanying message
– Press on a ‘send’ or ‘request’ button

The extreme degree of convenience of such services has garnered a significant demographic of newly self-proclaimed pay-by-text millennials. For instance, Venmo’s presence grew by an astounding 126 {8b3f73219b5080a422b1f04099b73d538078b62721cecdfd0086dbdff3438969} during the last three months of 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015, according to the mother company Paypal.

Splitting the bill has never been easier

Imagine a scenario where splitting bills at restaurants or ticket prices during activities is made easier. Well, it seems that the time has finally come for this ideal situation to implement itself into our everyday social lives. Digging up cash out of your handbag or writing cheques – which, by the way, are not always the one thing we tend to carry along all the time – are soon to become dreaded moments of the past. With apps like Venmo, it has become a lot easier and stress-free to pay your friends or family members back after they cover the fees for a group activity!

“It’s a lot easier to organize things for a group and just cover it instead of expecting people to buy separate tickets,” says Brianna Haag, 32, owner of a San Francisco-based business development consultancy. She paid for activities ranging from a half-marathon with friends to a group outing to the musical “Bring It On,” after which the people she covered for simply reimbursed her via Venmo.

An added plus of peer-to-peer apps is that they let you request the money you are owed. Sending a reimbursement request via an app will certainly rejoice those who dread the awkwardness that comes with asking for their money back, simply because an impersonal notification reminder feels less pushy.

The language of emojis adds an interesting touch to personal finances

According to Linda Kaye, Senior Lecturer in psychology at Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom and co-author of the 2017 report “Emojis: Insights, Affordances, and Possibilities for Psychological Science,” emojis can form “sort of a community with your own language.” Kaye also found out that one of the effects of emojis is that they bring a tone of positivity and lightheartedness to conversations – something which might or might not alleviate the tiny heartbreaks that normally accompany the instances whereby you separate yourself from your money.

While Facebook and Apple’s iMessage allow users to add emojis to the texts sent along with transactions, Venmo is quite the revolutionary in basing its whole transaction system on the exchange of emojis. On the said app, money transfers normally appear on public payment notes that stack up on an online feed, however, transaction amounts are only visible to the sender and the receiver.

Ny Mo, a Product Manager at Venmo, remarked that some users tend to “get really creative with their emoji usage and create puns out of them.” For example, she added that users would combine the bee emoji and the ear emoji to symbolize the word “beer.” As such, the quirky combination has now been made into an auto-suggestion by Venmo whenever a user types the word “beer” while writing a payment note.

After Briana Haag had covered for lunch with her friends, a string of payment notes and funny emoji combinations followed. “We talked about who had the funniest emoji,” she says. Venmo has become “a point of conversation, which is super bizarre.”

Storing money in apps will soon be more secure

With most peer-to-peer payment options, users have the ability to store money on a balance within the app itself. However, this is not as safe as transferring the money directly to a bank account. A bank account normally comes with a federal deposit insurance, which means that if the financial institution that you are registered with fails, you are sure to get your money back. However, not all of the P2P apps come with this kind of assurance.

Things are about to change, however. New federal regulations created to protect people with prepaid debit cards will extend new protections to users of P2P apps. The measures will be put into effect as early as 2018, which means that users of services like Venmo will soon be able to dispute errors with a legal support and gain an additional layer of protection against unauthorized transactions.

“Greater regulation of nonbanks – P2P providers – may level the playing field with banks for both compliance and consumer trust,” said Terri Bradford, payment research specialist, in a research briefing for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in January.

Sending money abroad through social media platforms is already possible

The beauty of payments enabled through social media is that they are not restricted to the United States only. International money transfer providers like Western Union, MoneyGram, and Transfer wise have joined in on transactions powered by social media platforms, allowing their customers to move funds through Facebook Messenger. The whole thing works thanks to “chatbots”, or software based on the AI model. Making payments to your relatives living abroad through trusted services has, therefore, become easier than ever before!

“Western Union recognises the social nature of our customers sending money across borders to friends and family,” says Christina Hamilton, head of digital partnerships and international expansion for Western Union. “And we believe we should be where our customers are – in this case, on social media.”