According to The Wall Street Journal, there’s an ongoing generational divide in how the younger generations prefer to pay for things (and get paid for things). While most adults may remember growing up with a “cash is king” mentality, today’s teens and 20-somethings are increasingly relying on mobile payment apps such as Venmo, Zelle, or Cash App, all of which let users move money in and out of their online bank accounts through their phones. (Here is a breakdown about differences between the various services.) If you’ve split the costs of dinner or drinks with a group of friends lately, there’s a decent chance at least one person offered to Zelle you what they owe.
Baffled adults told The Wall Street Journal about their attempts to fork over some dead Presidents to pay younger people for normally cash-oriented odd jobs such as babysitting and yard work, only to be asked to Venmo it instead. Now, parents and grandparents are reluctantly using mobile payment apps to give their kids cash for school or presents. A number of businesses are also increasingly cash-free and willing to accept Vennmo payments. And even some churches are now accepting donations through Venmo.
Millennials and zoomers increasing preferences for electronic cash delivery services has spawned memes such as “Venmo me $20” and has even seeped into the world of television; in an episode of the HBO comedy High Maintenance, a genial weed dealer reluctantly had to start taking Venmo payments when all his clients stopped using cash.
As noted by The Journal, Cash App parent company Square Inc. has found that “through March of this year, consumers used cash in 37% of transactions under $20, compared with 46% in 2015.”
It’s unclear exactly why this is happening, as all generational differences are hard to parse, but the Journal did note that young people just find it easier to not carry cash. While older generations have safety concerns about mobile payment apps, one upside for parents is that Venmo makes it easier to check up on their kids' finances.
Still, it's probably not a good idea to present cash as a holiday gift this year to anyone under the age of 30.