Money transfer apps are integral to modern life. Whether paying for your half of dinner or sending cash to family overseas, money transfer apps keep you financially connected.
As with all technological advancements, however, there are some drawbacks. Though money transfer apps are carefully designed and largely safe to use, they’re not quite foolproof.
In this brief blog, we’ll introduce the leading money transfer apps on the market, reveal how to use them, and provide five tips to help ensure you use them safely.
Money Transfer Apps: A Brief Overview
Money transfer apps compete in a constantly expanding space.
The five most popular apps in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment services are Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Zelle (who partners with hundreds of banks and credit unions). You can even make payments through Facebook Messenger!
Use of P2P payment services is exponentially growing. According to a study by eMarketer, by 2022, over 52% of mobile phone users will make one monthly P2P transaction by 2022.
There’s a reason for this popularity: money transfer apps are efficient and easy to use. All you have to do is download the app, add your bank account information, then select your intended recipient’s account.
For example, if you’re using Venmo, click Search and input the recipient’s name (or Venmo username) to find them. Then, simply add the amount of money you’d like to send (or receive) and finalize the transaction.
Note: if your intended recipient doesn’t use your preferred app, you can quickly send them an invitation to join.
Beware These Three Potential Scams
Here’s the good news: if you use them carefully, money transfer apps are safe.
As for the bad news? Scam artists are working very hard to change that.
As a general rule of thumb, once you send money digitally, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.
Here are three popular scams to avoid:
- Don’t use money transfer apps in online marketplaces and trading sites. Say you have your eye on a beautiful antique and the vendor replies, “It’s yours! Just Venmo me.” Once you send the money, there’s nothing holding the vendor to their end of the bargain. If they have questionable intentions, they’ll take your money, wire it to their bank, then delete their account and leave you without recourse.
- Avoid ticket scams for concerts and sporting events. As with online trading sites, never use a money transfer app to pay for something before you receive it. In the excitement of buying limited tickets (particularly as COVID-19 restrictions lighten), guard yourself against the tempting words, “Just Venmo me,” or “I take CashApp.” Your wallet will thank you.
- Avoid malicious emails. Fraudulent emails and phone calls have been around for decades, but they have insidiously adapted to money transfer apps. Beware of opening any prize, sweepstakes, or IRS-related emails or text messages. The same goes for anonymous messages claiming “your loved one is in trouble.” Savvy fraudsters will load these emails and texts with malware that can download onto your digital devices and expose your financial information.
5 Tips for Money Transfer App Safety
Now that we’ve explored the worst case scenarios, let’s focus on the best ways to promote your safety.
1) Secure Your App
Over 50% of Americans carry less cash than ever before, but don’t be fooled by this statistic. If you have a money transfer app on your phone, you are essentially carrying cash (and far more than you could fit in your purse or wallet). If you lose your phone or have it stolen, you expose the entirety of your cash supply to a total stranger.
Accidents happen, so take precautionary measures by enabling maximum security for your money transfer apps. Investigate the privacy settings available to you like Face ID, fingerprint ID, or two-factor authentication, and ensure that only you can use the app.
2) Only Send Money To Your Friends & Family
This may seem obvious, but by only exchanging money with your closest acquaintances, you significantly reduce the possibility of fraud. With money transfer apps, you are the first and last line of defense, and you’re only as safe as the precautionary measures you implement for yourself.
Keep it in the family.
3) Trust, But Verify (And Verify Again)
If you do have to send money outside your “circle of trust,” check the new recipient’s information multiple times before clicking Send. Remember: once you transfer money through an app, you likely won’t see it again.
For example, if you’re sending money to “Jane Smith” and search for her on the app, there will likely be multiple accounts under the same name. In addition to carefully identifying the correct user account, be sure to enter the exact dollar amount you want to send.
One misplaced zero could be costly.
4) Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Some apps feature a social aspect to money transfers. With Venmo, for example, each transaction is listed on a digital timeline with emojis or a few words to describe the nature of the exchange.
While this may seem like a fun way to engage with your network, it’s best to turn off these social media feeds and keep your finances entirely private.
5) Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi For Transfers
Nobody wants to burn their monthly data plan, but when it comes to money transfers, it’s best to use your own Wi-Fi or cellular data network. Public Wi-Fi is notoriously vulnerable to hackers and should be avoided whenever completing any financial transaction.
If you absolutely must use open Wi-Fi, create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before transferring any money.
Sending Money Home With uLink
At uLink, your security is our top priority. With the uLink app, you can safely send money all around the world.
To protect your personal and financial information, our app features advanced encryption systems. Plus, whenever you complete a transaction, you’ll be able to track its progress right from the app.
With uLink, you can skip the long wait times and hidden fees and send money home fast. Thanks to our global network, you can send money to over 143,900 locations in 51 countries. And with our great exchange rates and fees starting as low as $0, you can send more money home than ever before.
Miles from home — just moments away with uLink.