Apps Are Making Cash Obsolete For Millennials
In seconds millennials can repay their friends for a cup of coffee with Venmo, in minutes can have a car outside their front door with Uber, and in hours can have a package waiting on their doorstep with Amazon. App developers respond to the spending habits of young, social Americans by creating services that provide instant gratification and cashless experiences. Millennials spend their money in a way that reflects the increasingly digital and social world. Intelligent app developers—like those at Venmo, Uber, and Amazon—capitalize on the opportunity to serve the millennial generation because individuals ages 18-34 spend more money online than any other age group according to Business Insider.
Becoming a household name, Venmo is a mobile app that allows users to make digital, cashless payments amongst friends. Nielsen reports 55 percent of all app users in this category are ages 18-35, and the popularity hike among the young demographic has made this app a standard add-on for smartphones. A Business Insider article makes the argument that, “Venmo has already achieved that rare and highly coveted milestone in the product services world: its name has been verbalized. ‘Just Venmo me.’”
Used commonly to split checks at dinner or pay back a friend who spotted another cash, Venmo is an essential tool among millennials that services the unique financial habits of the generation. Younger Americans rely more on credit or debit cards and less on cash. According to CreditUnions.com, 20% of millennials reported having made no cash purchases of $5 or more within one month’s time, so Venmo fills the void created by a lack of cash use. Responding to user behaviors, app developers produce services (like Venmo) that not only eliminate cash but also key into the digital behaviors of social media savvy consumers.
Venmo makes paying friends a digital action that lives online just like other social media activities because Venmo’s interface looks more like a social media site than a payment system. A Fortune article points out, “Transactions appear in a section of Venmo loosely resembling Facebook’s news feed that friends can see.” Users can scroll through the Venmo activity of their friends—like who is paying who and for what. When a payment is made on Venmo, a “post” appears in the feed that includes a title describing the payment and the users involved in the transaction. A “like” button and a comment feature further reinforce the social media feeling of the experience.
Payments through Venmo eliminate some of the awkwardness when asking friends to repay a debt. Rather than confronting a friend in person or even sending a direct message like “Hey, could you pay me back for those drinks I bought you last night?”, users can charge friends from directly within the app. When accompanied by a fun title and a few emojis (like “Night Out!!! JJJ” or “Shaken, not stirred!”) a charge from a friend for last night’s drinks becomes a social activity for others to see in the Facebook-like feed.
Also keeping in mind the lifestyle habits of the younger generation, transportation apps like Uber and Lyft are a huge hit among millennials—specifically, 70% of all Uber riders are ages 16-34 according to Global Web Index. The app interface completely eliminates cash. The G Brief (an online site about millennials) compares the experience between a ridesharing service and a traditional cab, “Apps like Uber and Lyft that store your credit card information and automatically charge your account when you ride eliminate the need to open your wallet, wait patiently for change and awkwardly determine a tip. The seamless transaction is a big plus for Millennials.” These apps also allow multiple riders within the car to equally split the bill from directly within the app, so when the car pulls over and a group gets out, the bill is equally charged to all riders—effortlessly.
With Venmo and Uber/Lyft, a night on the town for a group of young urban professionals involves almost no cash. Venmo makes splitting the bill at dinner or the tab at a bar painless, and Uber slips the receipt of a trip into each rider’s email inbox without interruption. Plus, with Venmo, the payment lets last night’s expenses live on for all to see through the feed—just like tweets or Instagram pictures.
Instant gratification is the name of the game for millennials, and Venmo, Uber, and Lyft are the direct products of that trend. Likewise, for Amazon Prime customers in certain cities, Amazon offers same-day shipping to gratify their customers’ needs and desires as instantly as possible. With orders over $35 on qualifying products, a few clicks in the morning gets a package to a doorstep by the end of the day. According to Multi Channel Merchant, 56% of online shoppers ages 18-34 expect same-day shipping, and with one-click ordering online and on the mobile app, items are literally one tap away.
For a generation that spends lots of money but chooses not to use cash, the developers of Venmo, Uber, and Amazon saw an opportunity in the market and created the products that fit. Using intelligent app design, services reflect the social and digital nature of the millennial audience while meeting the need for instant gratification.
Finnian Saylor is a Public Relations Associate at Flackable, a national financial public relations and digital marketing agency, and a contributor at AdvisorAdvertising, a premier media channel offering the latest tips and trends on advertising, marketing and public relations for financial advisors. Follow Finnian on Twitter: @finnian_saylor.