PayPal and Venmo: The Friendly Way to Buy Online By: Jessica Willburn

PayPal is a service that helps you purchase items online more safely and securely. This is an app you can find on any app store that is free to download. It is easy to download and set up an account. The app will ask you to input your credit card and bank account information. You can shop with PayPal on most online sites that accept it. It can also be used to pay other people too. Did you go to lunch with someone and need to pay them back? With PayPal, you can easily send money right to their PayPal account. You can also receive money from other people. With your PayPal account, you can connect either your credit card to it, or your checking account. PayPal facilitates the payments between you and whoever you are sending money to. When opening the app on your phone, your identification must be confirmed with either a password or touch ID. This helps to ensure that only you have access to sending money. This company makes your payments safer because the payor and payee do not have to disclose any bank account or credit card numbers to each other during the transaction. PayPal is under similar regulations as banks are. For an unauthorized transaction, your liability is determined by how quickly you notify the company. If you notify PayPal promptly that there was an unauthorized transaction, then they will be able to help you.

Similarly, there is an app called Venmo. This app is also free to download from the app store. This app is more geared towards sending and receiving money from friends and family. You cannot use it to pay for your online purchases. This app allows you to send the exact amount of money you owe someone quickly and easily. Most people do not carry cash or write checks anymore, so Venmo allows you to transfer money to anyone with ease. It is also a secure app; your financial information is encrypted and protected through Venmo’s services. This helps to eliminate unauthorized transactions or someone trying to hack into your account. There is a customer service line that is available to contact at any time there is suspicious activity on your account. The customer service representatives can help identify the problem within your account and make sure there is no fraudulent activity. There is also only a charge for sending money if you use a credit card; most other payments are free. Venmo is a safe and secure way to keep track of your money while sending and receiving payments. All transactions are recorded within the app on your account, making it easy to refer to money sent or received. Both PayPal and Venmo could be helpful apps for older adults.

Seniors may be interested in using PayPal or Venmo for their transactions because it keeps their finances safe and secure. Older adults may have a decrease in judgment and decision making as they age regarding financial management (National Research Council Staff, 2000). More seniors have self-directed financial plans after retirement and may not consult professionals for financial help. Since older adults have increasing decrements in information-processing capability, this can impair their judgment and smart financial decisions (National Research Council Staff, 2000). Also, online shopping may be new to them and they may not have the skills to identify if it is a safe website to be sending money to. If they have PayPal, then they can just shop at online stores that accept PayPal and they will know their money is secure. Even if they do end up purchasing from a fraudulent website, PayPal can help them resolve the issue and get their money back. This can help reduce stress for an older adult.

These apps can also help if seniors have difficulty writing or remembering how to fill out checks. With PayPal, seniors eliminate the need to mail in checks to stores, and can immediately receive a receipt for their payment. They will not have to wait extended periods of time for checks to go through the mail and wait for their items to be shipped. In addition, this can help with a senior’s memory. If an older adult has poor short term memory, and accidently submit a second purchase for an item they just bought, a warning message will pop up from PayPal. This warning message will ask the individual if they want to proceed with an identical transaction they just processed. This will help older adults feel more confident when they make purchases if they weren’t sure if they already bought that item or not.

In Jiang’s (2016) study, his research team looked at the generational differences in perception and coping skills of online internet safety. There were 116 adult participants ranging from the Millennial (born between 1977 and 1992), Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1954), and SGI (born before 1945) generations. They completed a demographic survey that asked them about their perceptions of online threats, online safety, and protection behaviors (Jiang et al., 2016). The results showed that all generations felt vulnerable to online safety threats and they all had some experience with online safety concerns. The SGI generation were very concerned with online use, had a fear of the internet, and disliked being dependent on the internet. The SGI generation had less coping skills when faced with an internet threat and were less confident in their protective behaviors (Jiang et al., 2016).

In comparison, Millennials were more concerned with specific safety concerns such as their personal information being stolen. They were, however, more confident in their ability to protect themselves and in their technological savviness. Millennials also showed that they were not as worried about their financial assets because they did not have as much money as most older adults. The Baby Boomers seemed more concerned than the Millennials, with less confidence in their abilities, but they did not have the same fear of the internet as the SGI generation. This study shows some concerns older adults may have in the protection of their finances when transferring money electronically. PayPal and Venmo would allow the SGI generation to be more at ease with online transactions. Their money would be more secure and they would be less susceptible to internet threats.

PayPal or Venmo could also be difficult for some older adults to use. In Kuoppamäki’s (2017) study, the researchers identified the barriers that older adults face in using the internet. They did a survey of 574 college students and older adults. They asked about the participant’s perceptions of the internet and their confidence and willingness to go online. The study showed that the three major barriers for adults was value, risk, and tradition (Kuoppamäki, Taipale, & Wilska, 2017). Often, the older adults did not want to change their habits, they are already comfortable with paying in store and using in store services. Using a check book or cash was also more in their comfort zone. Virtual in store services and online transactions were not as familiar to them and often they did not want to break their habits and learn new ones (Kuoppamäki, 2017). Due to these concerns of older adults, apps for online payments could pose some difficulties.

PayPal and Venmo could have some changes to optimize their usage for older adults. Since these services are online, it is difficult to contact someone from their customer service line. They mainly rely on email or internet forums to assist their customers. Most older adults prefer to physically talk to a person when solving a problem. Another issue could be that older adults may have a more difficult time remembering their username and password for their account. It is also a somewhat tricky process for password recovery since these accounts are linked to credit cards or bank accounts. One other issue is that these services do not have very well laid out tutorials for their app. If older adults are unfamiliar with the lay out of apps and are not confident in their technological ability, it could be difficult for them to get the hang of using the app at first. Overall, PayPal and Venmo could be beneficial to older adults in their online financial safety, however, these apps could make some improvements to help with an easy transition to online payments.


Jiang, M., Tsai, H., Cotten, S., Rifon, N., Larose, R., & Alhabash, S. (2016). Generational Differences in Online Safety Perceptions, Knowledge, and Practices. Educational Gerontology, Educational Gerontology, 26 June 2016.

Kuoppamäki, Taipale, & Wilska. (2017). The use of mobile technology for online shopping and entertainment among older adults in Finland. Telematics and Informatics, 34(4), 110-117.

National Research Council Staff, P., Stern, & Carstensen. (2000). Aging Mind: Opportunities in Cognitive Research. Washington: National Academies Press.2016-06-06-1465216846-4934374-smartphones


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