Venmo offers an alternative to your trusty leather wallet. | Dakota Greenwich/Mustang News

Sam Gilbert
Special to Mustang News

“I don’t have any cash on me. Can I just Venmo you?”

Venmo has become both a noun and a verb. Online banking took one giant leap for mankind this past year. As physical cash took the backseat to the convenience of downloading an application on a smart phone and just pressing “confirm,” money began flowing via cyberspace from one bank account to the next with no questions asked.

Online forms of payment such as Venmo, Bitcoin and Apple Pay provide simple accessibility that catches the attention of the population, ranging from college students to local storeowners.

Ben Vigil, owner of Apple Tree Clothing in Santa Maria, welcomes the change that technology brings if it means offering amenities to his customers. As more customers ask for different forms of payment, Vigil makes the effort to expand the acceptance of different payment methods to be more amenable to those who ask about it.

“For me, it’s a service that I want to be able to provide for our customers out there as the trend continues to get bigger and bigger,” Vigil said.

Vigil’s clothing store currently accepts payments through Bitcoin, a digital currency. Bitcoin users transfer the virtual currency to each other from unique digital wallets. Bitcoin relies on its open source software to ensure that it is not tampered with.

“I’ve always been into crypto and alternative currencies,” Vigil said. “Bitcoin is something that isn’t going to be going away — I think we’re going to keep seeing more of it.”

Vigil said the new form of payment created notoriety for his store and improved business.

“I’ve always been a kind of cutting-edge guy willing to try new things,” Vigil said. “Bitcoin has given us so much publicity and people come in asking about it all the time.”

Even more current than Bitcoin is Venmo. Once a credit card is put into the system, any sum of money accessible from a checking account can be transferred at the click of a button.

Brand-name used clothing store Twice, located in Santa Maria, has made Venmo a part of its system.

Twice Senior Community Manager Rachel Signorella said it’s an interactive way to pay without having to use physical money, which can be an effort to retrieve from the bank.

“I think that it’s already improving our business,” Signorella said.

At Twice, customers send clothing, handbags and shoes to the store, where employees then evaluate them and send them an offer for the items.

“Having multiple payment methods, especially since we’re paying our customers for goods that they send to us to donate, is a great way to make our customers feel like they’re getting their share,” Signorella said.

Chris Luhur, director of marketing at Twice, said they made Venmo a feature due to popular demand.

“We were especially interested in Venmo because it’s weighted very heavily by the younger generation, so we wanted to help our customers,” Luhur said.

The concept of having personal information on a mobile phone leads to questions of security and how safe it really is to have such intricate details so easily accessible. Both Signorella and Vigil, however, feel confident about the new additions.

“Venmo allows you the option to not put in your banking information at the very beginning, which opens a lot of doors,” Signorella said.

Starting out, users can create a Venmo account without automatically circulating money straight from their checking. If another user pays them, it goes into the account on the application, so when a payment needs to be made to somebody else, the money from that account goes into a rotating system.

Vigil said he trusts the system and would be willing to use Venmo in addition to BitCoin.

“Different ideas at first are scary, but then you get used it,” Vigil said. “I think for the people who are against it need to just accept and embrace it.”

Civil engineering sophomore Rebecca Villalobos said she and her friends downloaded Venmo with paying each other for rent in mind.

“I think it’s kind of a college thing and the older generation isn’t as into downloading applications and putting credit cards on their cell phones,” Villalobos said.

One of the social aspects the younger generation is more commonly associated with is when users make a payment on Venmo, a home screen shows up where the public can see short descriptions of who made a payment and what it was for.

Luhur said one of the best parts about the younger generation using the application is the social aspect of it.

“On our end, it improves business and it’s one of the perks of Venmo because users can communicate exactly what they’re paying for,” Luhur said.

In addition, Vigil sees online banking as the future for all generations.

As Vigil recounted an incident that occurred last week, his voice lit up as he explained a customer came from New Zealand, where they also have a similar system to Venmo, and she said she doesn’t physically use her credit cards anymore.

“I look at my son, who is two years old, and I think about what the world will be like when he’s 20,” Vigil said. “I really do think that this is something of the future and this trend is just going to keep progressing.”

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