Millions of people have become a way to split pizzas and rentals into mobile payments on their phones instead of paying them the old fashioned way. Especially during this COVID-19 crisis, many people avoid the use of liquid cash, which they choose to collect atomically and electronically. Peer-to-peer mobile payments are easier and cleaner than pulling out a credit card, instead, open the app, select the person and dollar amount and click Send. But are all these online payments safe?
Apps are generic, but some come at a huge cost. What most people don't realize is that when they pay with their friends, they often leave out valuable information about themselves, which is shared with many data companies, and this process happens in the background without the need to choose or exit.
Through the review of USA Today, we could find that some of the most popular apps, regularly transmit personal data to third-party data firms. Cash and Venmo, are examples for it.
Patrick Jackson, a security researcher at Disconnect, a security firm that helps apps block website tracking, tracked their phones when making transactions to find out which apps are sharing data.
EMarketer, a measurement firm that will grow to 80 million by 2023, said 69.4 million U.S. people will use mobile pay or 25.2 percent of shoppers this year. People pay using their debit cards and / or linking apps with banking accounts.
Where the Venmo Data Went?
Payment apps, with 52 million users, pass to the user location (where you created the transaction) and the people we trade into the data frame brace - even when transacting in "private" mode.
Braze calls itself as a "customer engagement platform," to "forging human connections between consumers and the brands they love."
It sent Jackson contact information to Holler.io, the parent company of emoji, which creates animated stickers with your payment and pinpoint Secure Data Collector, and gave Jackson some serious security statements.
He said "Every time users send money with Venmo, whether or not they send an emoji or not (like in your case), Holler.io receives the user's GPS coordinates. That doesn’t make sense at all."
Venmo's PayPal responded as, "We use personal data in order to provide our services, including to process transactions, resolve disputes, manage risk and protect against fraud, and we partner with select vendors on this work."
Where the Cash Data Goes?
On top of competitors like Cash, Venmo and PayPal Mobile Cash, Cash is currently the most downloaded mobile pay app in the Apple and Google app stores.
Cash App, owned by financial services company Square, sent data to app-measurement.com and mobileapptracking.com to the entities shown in the transaction.
When USA Today asked them about the data sharing they answered, "Cash App sometimes use third-party services to analyze anonymous data about app usage to help us fix bugs, identify app crashes, understand marketing campaigns, and improve the customer experience. These services are common in the industry and we choose products that are designed with customer privacy in mind.”
Richard Cronn, who runs Cron Consulting LLC, which advises institutions on digital banking, says the future of "social sharing" wants to be part of many businesses. But is it fair to pass on your information even without your knowledge? Choice is yours anyways.