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Updated on Wednesday, September 25, 2019
The spread of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps means that sending money to friends and loved ones has never been easier. A few taps on your mobile device can ease the awkwardness that can accompany dividing bills and paying people the money you owe them.
P2P payment apps allow quick and easy payment of rent charges, restaurant bills and travel expenses. They can replace pocket money and trips to the ATM. Collecting money for your coworker’s birthday? Use a P2P app to request and gather funds for a special gift. Just so long as you know the party to whom you’re sending money, P2P payment apps are a handy addition to your financial management toolkit.
The 2018 Fintech Adoption study from Q2 and Cornerstone Advisors found that PayPal leads the pack with the highest user adoption rate out of P2P payment apps across all providers. However, the study also showed that while consumers may prefer PayPal, P2P transaction volumes remain highest on services offered by financial institutions, as shown in the chart below:
Whether you opt to send, receive or request money using your bank or credit union’s P2P app or one from a fintech startup like Venmo or Square, you’ll probably end up using it frequently. Market research company eMarketer estimated in a 2018 report that nearly 130 million U.S. mobile phone owners will use P2P apps at least monthly by 2022.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular apps on the market today and how they make the task of sending and receiving payments less complicated.
The top apps for P2P payments
We like all of the P2P payment apps listed in the Q2 and Cornerstone Advisors tables cited above, as well as Apple Pay, which is a late entry to the space but is seeing growing adoption due to the market penetration of Apple mobile devices. SnapCash was seen as too small a player for our listing here. Note that Google Wallet was rebranded as Google Pay in 2018.
Here’s a look at our picks, including a side-by-side comparison of who you can pay and fees the apps may charge for sending money or cashing out your balance:
|App||Who can you pay?||Fees to send money||Fees to cash out|
|Apple Pay Cash|
|Square Cash App|
PayPal allows you to send money to family and friends for free from a linked bank account or your PayPal account balance. PayPal charges a fee equal to 2.9% of the transaction value when you fund your money transfer with a credit or a debit card. Recipients must have a PayPal account, and they can quickly receive the money using the currency of choice. Many online merchants and brick-and-mortar stores accept PayPal P2P payments. PayPal also offers P2P users a handy tool that creates your very own custom URL, which lets other PayPal P2P users — friends and family, or even clients — pay money directly to your PayPal account. Just share the URL with them, and it makes it simple to collect money online, split a bill or get paid by clients
Venmo permits payments between family and friends, and allows users to make purchases at selected merchants online. There’s no charge when you send money from your linked bank account, debit card or Venmo balance. Recipients can leave the funds in their Venmo account or transfer them to their bank.
For use with Android devices, users can send or request money via Gmail, in the Google Pay app or via Android messages. Similar to other P2P apps, Google Pay allows you to link your debit card or bank account. Recipients without a Google Pay account must claim the funds within 14 days or funds will be returned to the sender. Numerous online and in-store businesses also accept Google Pay payments.
Apple Pay Cash
Only available for use on Apple devices, Apple Pay Cash uses your Apple Cash balance or linked debit card to send payments. Friends and family members with an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch can use Apple Pay Cash as long as they have a valid Apple ID. Payments can be made and received via iMessage. Users can even use the Ask Siri feature to help make the transaction even easier. Collected funds can remain in the app to make future purchases or they can be transferred to a linked bank account.
Zelle partners with over 100 banks and credit unions, who offer Zelle’s P2P payment service as an additional free feature. If your bank partners with Zelle, setting up is just a click away inside your existing account. If your financial institution isn’t a Zelle partner, then you will need to download the Zelle app to get started. You can send money to recipients using their email address or mobile number. If a recipient is not currently a Zelle user, they will receive instructions on how to access the funds along with the payment notification.
Square Cash App
The Square Cash App is the P2P service offered by payments fintech firm Square, Inc. Individuals and businesses can send and receive payments using credit cards or debit cards with no fees. Much like PayPal, Cash App lets you set up your own unique URL, which they call a $Cashtag, where friends, family, and customers can make payments to you privately and securely. The app is available for download from the App Store or Google Play.
Popmoney is powered by Fiserv, an online banking company that also provides financial services to banks and credit unions. Users can sign up for the service at a participating financial institution or by visiting the Popmoney website. Like Zelle, Popmoney moves money directly from bank account to bank account, so there is never a Popmoney account balance.
With Popmoney, receiving payments is free, but sending and requesting money is costs $0.95 per transaction (you aren’t charged if you make a request and the person doesn’t pay it). Payments funded by debit cards are delivered as early as the next business day, while payments funded by bank accounts can take up to three business days to process.
Which P2P app should you choose?
P2P payment apps can simplify money matters with friends and family. The pros and cons of each P2P payment app can make it tough to choose the app that best meets your needs.
Fortunately, there’s no need to stick to one app. Select one or more that works with your financial lifestyle. The ease of use for one P2P app might outweigh the cost in fees of another. Sometimes, app compatibility with your device will be the deciding factor in app selection.
As with any technology that links to private financial data, users should read data policies and fee disclosures in full before linking their bank accounts. Download your preferred P2P app to send and receive money more conveniently.
Fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of September 25, 2019