The Rise of Cash App
Kenza Bey, Lucy Caroff (Sophomores)
For years, different companies have been vying for a spot in the competitive peer-to-peer (P2P) payment industry. Applications like Zelle and Venmo have come in and out of fashion. Now, a new competitor has entered the field, and its use among teens at Obama is astonishingly high: Cash App. When asked about what P2P payment apps they use, most teenagers at Obama said that they primarily use Cash App. Seeing companies like Cash App gain popularity among youth in a sector that already has an established and ubiquitous option–in this case PayPal–impels one to wonder what makes it more appealing to young people.
P2P payment apps are generally quite similar. Some of them even function almost identically. Consider Cash App and PayPal. Both are compatible with credit and debit, offer instant payment and receiving of money, and are free. Often the only differences between the apps are the user interfaces. If the only differences are aesthetic, why do people of a certain demographic choose one over all the others?
Cash App’s marketing may be the secret behind its usage among teens. Sophomore Arya Datta says, “[Cash App] is more appealing to kids our age. It’s not made for professional transactions and appeals to the social aspect of spending.” PayPal was originally released in 2000, and exponentially grew in popularity during the 2000s. Because of this, PayPal grew to become the domain of parents in kid’s minds. It isn’t trendy or popular to use the same apps as your parents, which is why Cash App, released in 2013, grew in popularity. We see this relationship in other sectors: Facebook and Pandora were rejected for Instagram and Spotify. Companies take advantage of this by marketing themselves toward this younger demographic. The advertisements for these apps are bright and eye-catching, including well known rappers and celebrities. “I see the green and I think about money. It makes a connection in my mind,” says Sophomore Evan Peterson. “Blue [the color of PayPal] doesn’t really mean anything,” adds Sophomore Hirai Shuda.
Sophomore Talynn Allen also says that “Cash App is just more convenient.” This seems to be the general consensus among teens, who admittedly have never tried another P2P payment app. Successful marketing has left more and more teens downloading and using the app. Recent data suggests Cash App has around 44 million monthly users. Necessary homogenization helps. When everyone around you has one app, and you’re looking for a way to make transactions with them, it makes sense to get the same app. This leads to further spreading. “It’s a social app,” says Sophomore Ashraf Bey. The ability to add messages to transactions, create a favorites list, and customize your Cash Card may seem silly and superficial, but it adds a layer of engagement not present in other P2P payment apps.