Rutgers students, professor talk mobile payment uses

<p>Photo Illustration | More and more students are using Venmo and similar mobile payment applications as an alternative to carrying around cash or paying for items through traditional methods.</p>

Photo Illustration | More and more students are using Venmo and similar mobile payment applications as an alternative to carrying around cash or paying for items through traditional methods.

Millennials account for more than 50 percent of people who use mobile payment transactions, according to Payments Journal, with a large number of these transactions now occurring through the app Venmo.

Venmo is a mobile app that provides a social way for people to pay or request money from their friends when cash is not an option, according to the Venmo website. The moment a person makes the transaction through the app, money is withdrawn from their bank account and sent to the recipient’s Venmo balance, according to the website.

Started by two college students from the University of Pennsylvania, Venmo was created by students, for students, to make paying back a friend a little easier,  according to the website.

Tori Simon, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, utilizes the app to fundraise for her sorority, Sigma Kappa.

“I believe it has increased sales for fundraising because while tabling on (the) College (Avenue campus), students walk by and say 'Aw, I wish I had money,' and we say 'We accept Venmo!' so there is no excuse for them not to throw a dollar or two our way — it is very convenient and students, including myself, love when people say they accept Venmo,” Simon said in an email.

The biggest incentive for college students to download the app seems to be convenience, said Steven Davidson, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. It not only allows individuals to quickly pay back a friend but connect with those over long distances as well.

He said he believes Venmo is popular due to how easy it is to use. His friends use it across different universities because it allows people to be paid back immediately.

With Venmo’s increasing popularity on college campuses, students must make sure to take all necessary precautions to protect their accounts and decrease the risk of fraud, said David Cash, a professor in the Department of Computer Science. The first step would be for students to create a strong and unique password.

“For passwords, even well beyond Venmo, I use a password manager, called LastPass. When I log into a website, for example, Sakai, there is an extension in my browser and now I have all my passwords stored here," he said.

LastPass automatically creates long, secure passwords for users the first time they visit a website, according to its site.

Students should also be utilizing a password manager so that each of their accounts, whether it be for their Gmail or Venmo, have different credentials needed to log in, Cash said. 

When students have the same account name and password across the board, it greatly heightens the risk of a hacker accessing all of their accounts, or even becoming a victim of identity theft, Cash said.

“Information security is kind of like brushing your teeth, where you have to do all this annoying, habitual stuff to avoid low probability annoyances,” Cash said.

After creating a strong password, he said the next step for financial security when utilizing Venmo would be turning on the app’s two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication means that instead of just asking for the password when a user logs in, there is an added measure the app will use to verify the user, Cash said. For example, Venmo may text the individual a random code after they try to log in that they will have to plug in to access their account.

Although two-factor authentication already exists for Venmo when they try to access their account on a different device, the individual is able to turn on two-factor authentication each time they open the app by accessing the account and privacy setting, according to the website Turn On.

“These technologies, like password manager or turning on two-factor, are making it easier, and less trouble to prevent these low-probability attacks from happening against you,” Cash said.

By taking as many precautions as possible, users greatly reduce their risk of becoming a victim of hacking or fraud on their accounts, Cash said. Though it is not essential to take these steps, it would only benefit the user. 

“It’s also important to remember the overwhelming fraction of people won't experience any fraud or have money stolen, it’s not like if you don’t do this you will experience this problem. It’s protection so you are not one of those uncommon people who has a week of their life ruined by trying to correct fraud or get their credit rating fixed,” Cash said.  

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