Swanson’s Lunchtime

Does your P2P money transfer app do lunchtime!?

A lot of mobile payment companies aim to conquer the mobile world with their P2P services. Telling you that sending and requesting money is the easiest way to get paid or pay for daily things…like lunch with friends. WRONG! While these P2P services are a step in the right direction, they certainly do not provide users much additional value when it comes to lunchtime. Furthermore, we have been measuring mobile payments services using the wrong criteria. Criteria like; Is it free?; Does the service have an app?; Do my friends have the app?; and so on. I suggest we look at the P2P mobile payments from a more realistic perspective. Lunchtime!


So why use lunchtime to build out evaluation criteria? Simple, when it comes to life’s little blessings lunchtime ranks near the top of just about every human’s list. Some may even go as far as to say lunchtime is safely in the top 5 best ideas ever conceived! Yes, ranked higher than the iphone, pizza, or sliced bread! So, why hasn’t anyone taken the time to put P2P mobile payments to the “Lunchtime” Test? I say let’s do it now!

Test Criteria

Before we look too closely at the table below let’s lay out four principles of any quality lunchtime activity:

  • Can I do it at lunchtime?
  • Does it help fill the belly?
  • Can I do it with friends?
  • Does not remind me of work!

Grading Scale

A — Delivers value well above and beyond getting the job done?

B — Makes it easy to get the job done and lets you focus on the a higher value?

C — Provides the minimum to get the job done?

D — Lacks the necessary ingredients to complete the job?

Now that we have agreed with the evaluation criteria we can look at the P2P mobile payments contestants @Venmo @Cash, @Gane.io, and @FBMessanger. (for simplicity let’s not include lunchtime outside of the US even though the same principles apply) We have four players. (I have eliminated Google Wallet, SnapCash, Dwolla, and others because nobody really uses those from what I have been told.) Let’s start with Venmo.


Founded in 2009 by Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail, and acquired by Braintree which was itself acquired by PayPal less than a year later. Owned by PayPal and headquartered in San Francisco, California. As the most widely known and oldest P2P mobile payments service Venmo lets you send and receive money for things you and your closest of friends do. They do a good job of staying out of the way for the most part and most in the fintech space look at Venmo as the current size leader when it comes to use. However, when we apply the lunchtime criteria we find Venmo lacking.

Venmo screen shots v6.21.0

Can you do it at lunchtime? Grade B- Technically you can do Venmo at lunchtime. Nothing about Venmo requires you to initiate a money request or send at a particular time of day. Nor does the Venmo experience take a particularly long time to initiate. However, if you take a look at the nice Venmo social thread you quickly notice that the service is heavily used as a debt settlement tool for things that take place in the past. As a result, Venmo’s ability to do it at lunchtime grades out at a B-.

Does it help fill the belly? Grade D+ Venmo does nothing to help you find food, buy food or fill your belly. Plane and simple Venmo is not used for helping one fill his or her belly! For this reason Venmo grades out with a D+.

Can You do it with friends? Grade C+ Most P2P mobile payment services inherently rely on pre-existing relationships and Venmo is no different. That being said Venmo does give close friends a good way to simply go grab lunch and settle it later. However, when it comes to doing it with not so close friends or work acquaintances Venmo has been known to cause a bit of office drama when it comes to tipping habits. i.e. I go to lunch with a group of co-workers and we order a pizza. Pizza is great, but the wait person catches the eye of my co-worker and the next thing you know I am on the hook for a super fat tip. Of course split 4 ways! Yeah, I know you are saying that how often does that happen? You might be surprised if you don’t know the group well. All these deficiencies lead me to give Venmo a; Can you do it with friends grade of C+.

Does not remind me of work? Grade C- Although Venmo is a mobile app which can seem like fun, paying for services rendered is never fun. Most would rather the person lending them the money for lunch simply write it off as a kindness. And that is especially true when lunch wasn’t all that good to begin with. Therefore, using Venmo can feel a lot like having your boss remind you of a deadline using the over the shoulder look or the nagging email. For this reason, it has some work elements and for that I give Venmo a Does not remind me of Work grade of C-.

Square Cash

It was introduced by Square’s Jack Dorsey himself in 2013, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Square Cash, or Cash as it is referred to by us users, is quite a bit younger than Venmo. It was introduced as a simplified consumer facing service after Square’s initial consumer facing wallet did not take off. Cash is pretty straight forward compared to some of the bells and whistles you find with Venmo. No user transaction feed, no multi-level profile. Just type the amount you want to send and who you want to send it. That is it, straight forward and to the point. When you ask around the average college student or recent grad what they use to send money P2P style Cash comes in a close second. However, the vibe is Cash is better than Venmo. Now lets apply the lunchtime criteria.

Square Cash screen shots v2.14

Can you do it at lunchtime? Grade B- Similar to it older friend Venmo, Cash can technically be used at lunchtime. But if you do use it during lunchtime you are not enjoying lunchtime. It is even easier to use than Venmo so when it comes to a lunchtime activity Cash gets a B-.

Does it help fill the belly? Grade C Cash suffers from the same deficiencies as Venmo does. Mr. Dorsey’s original Square wallet was a lot closer to being able to fulfill belly filling as it was closely linked to merchant on the Square processing network. Cash is not a mobile wallet and lacks any discovery or directional signals to help make your lunchtime a better belly filling experience. However, it merits a slightly better grade than Venmo for the shear fact that Mr. Dorsey’s continues to massage his desires to have a consumer facing product that does more than money transfer. So, perhaps in the not too distant future Cash will morph into something more. All that gets Cash as a helpful tool for getting you food a C.

Can You do it with friends? Grade C+ Yes, you have to do it with friends. It is a P2P mobile payment service, Com’on Man! Cash is supported on both Android and iOS devices but if you retro hipster friends are rockin the Blackberry don’t be lending them lunch money. Crazy to think but using a service like Cash fundamentally requires friends and even then it only gets a C+.

Does it remind me of work? Grade C Hmmm, well the Cash logo is dollar symbol so I could see some of my friends associating that with having a job but work that would be a stretch. That being said there is nothing compelling to the Cash service that doesn’t remind me of work so because of the balance I would have to give it a middle of the road C.


GanePay is a new service that was announced by SimplyTapp, Inc. and is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For those of you reading this that did not know, SimplyTapp is credited with inventing HCE which is the cloud based payment technology that powers payments on android devices around the globe. As of November 2016 HCE is supported on more than 83.3 percent of all Android devices. They are also the only company not based primarily in San Francisco. That may give them a more practical approach to problem solving. So let’s see how GanePay stacks up to the others.

GanePay screen shots v1.1

Can you do it at lunchtime? Grade A- Awwww, lunchtime! :) You remember lunchtime at every stage of your life. In grade school lunchtime meant playing outside; in high school if you had open campus you were itching for lunch break as soon as that first bell rang and go anywhere; in college lunchtime was pretty much all the time, so it was more about where you could find the best value, tacos were always a good value; And then there lunchtime at the office, putting in the hard work and looking forward to some fresh air and break from creating awesome products and services. All that in simple lunchtime. So what is better than lunchtime? GanePay plus lunchtime!

Similar to Vemno and Cash, GanePay makes requesting and sending money easy. Unlike Venmo and Cash, GanePay takes it a step further and makes it easier to maximize your time. GanePay helps maximize your lunch by taking a lot of the leg work out the common question “what to grab for lunch”, through its map feature. The GanePay map gives you a live view of places around you that want your lunchtime business. Just like Google Map’s you can see what’s around you, click on a place to interact with it and learn more. GanePay even makes getting to the place easier by integrating one-click directions into the map. This single feature makes GanePay more useful for lunchtime folly. It turns lunchtime into the experience you knew you wanted to have but did not know you had the time for. For all this GanePay gets an A-.

Does it help fill the belly? Grade B+ As you would imagine one of the most important aspects of lunchtime is the lunch, or aka are you still hungry. And while no P2P mobile payment service can actually insert food into your belly, GanePay sure helps get food into your hands cheaper and faster. Venmo, Cash, and later to mention FB Messenger, offer P2P money transfer services, GanePay is the only service that instantly turns your friends money into your money. As soon as your friend(s), sends you the $15 they owe you it is instantly available for buying that much needed lunch. Moreover, GanePay is the first app to be integrated with Apple Pay allowing you to turn that $15 you received into a lunch in person or delivered via GrubHub, UberEats or any of the other Apple Pay enabled food delivery services. For this ease of use and accessibility to money GanePay receives a grade of B+.

Can You do it with friends? Grade B+ As mentioned previously the other P2P mobile payment services make it easy for you to pay your friends, GanePay make it easier to decide where to go or what to eat by letting users send, share and redeem giftcards, store credits, and offers with your friends. This feature makes filling your belly a lot easier, and potentially cheaper. Take for example your friend receives an offer when they bought lunch at Trader Joe’s. They share the offer with you and guess what, your lunch just got that much cheaper as you decided to use an offer vs. going to your usual place. Even though GanePay is not actually inserting food into your belly it sure does help fill the belly and for that I give it a grade of B+.

It does not remind me of work? Grade A Nope, GanePay feels nothing like work. When was the last time the company gave you reason and ideas to leave the office? I can say that I never worked for a company that gave me suggestions on how to get out of the office. In fact, GanePay feels a lot more like a personal assistant than a payments service. GanePay offers its assistant services through a handful of comment messaging platform bots including, Messenger, iMessages, Kik and Telegram. So when it comes to not reminding me of work GanePay gets a A.

Messenger’s P2P

Introduced in March 2015, Messenger is owned by Facebook, Inc. and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Messenger lets users request and send money between each other. But with that fact Messenger has like everyone in the US on Messenger makes it seem pretty accessible. However, Facebook is so huge, with so many features that sometimes it is hard to create new features that do not get drowned out by the rest of the ecosystem.

“I use Venmo. The last thing I want to do is give FB more information about me. I mean, Why do I need to use Messenger to send money, that is not the purpose of FB or messenger!”, Says female in her late 20s that sat talked to before boarding a flight back to Austin, Tx.

So let’s see how Messenger’s P2P solution holds up to the lunchtime test.

FB Messenger screen shots v98.0

Can you do it at lunchtime? Grade B Similar to it predecessor, Messenger’s P2P service can be used at lunchtime. In fact, it might actually be easier to initiate money transfers in Messenger because you are likely already using Messenger to chat with your friends or family. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much beyond the message itself. That being said, Messenger has no distinguishable features to separate it from Venmo or Cash outside of having it inline with your other messages on Messenger. If you want to use some other P2P service you will be limited. So when it comes to being a lunchtime activity Messenger P2P gets a B.

Does it help fill the belly? Grade C Just like the Venmo and Cash, Messenger P2P lacks any additional functionality to help someone fill the belly. But it does not lack anything the others have so it is generally the same exact service just in a different, and some may say better, environment. All that gets Messenger P2P as a helpful tool for getting you food a C.

Can You do it with friends? Grade B- Messenger is pretty great when it comes to sharing lunch ideas with friends. Because Messenger’s P2P service requires you to be friends with the people you send and receive money transfers from this could have been an issue. However, you are likely already connected to friends on Facebook so using the service during lunchtime with close friends should be fairly easy. However, these is one big issue. The only way you can share money using Messenger is if you are connected on Facebook. That means sharing your personal profile which could get dicy in work situation.

That begin said, Messenger is a communication platform that lets you share and show your friends videos, pictures, and generally any contextual content. This media rich environment gives Messenger P2P services a practical leg up on the Venmo and Cash media weak P2P services when it comes to doing it with friends. (Hint: get plugged in PayPal and Square) As a result, Messenger P2P with friends gets a B-.

It does not remind me of work? Grade A- Facebook, the Messenger parent, is the last thing you think about when you think of work. At most, using Facebook at work may make you feel a little guilty. That being said, Messenger’s P2P does not offer much more outside of not being work. (Caveat: FB Messenger for Work!!! Yikes!!!) Even with the Workplace chat product by Facebook the Messenger P2P service is still pretty isolated from making me feel like work and so gets the grade of A-.


This analysis was meant meant to be both fun and practical. It is easy to compare P2P services on cost and availability but I see a future where money is more fluid. The shear fact that Venmo, Cash and Messenger P2P usage continues to grow, not to mention the many other me-to P2P services, should be evidence that it is only a matter of time before digital P2P services are the norm. That is my belief so I took the liberty to dig a bit deeper into the reason people use P2P services in the first place. I just happened to focus to lunchtime payback.

GanePay wins the lunchtime crown!

Venmo is believed to have the usage lead because of its age but comes up short when delivering value beyond sending and receiving money. Cash is coming up fast because it is so dang easy to use, but until Square launches a more integrated solution that delivers more than money transfer the Cash service misses the boat for lunchtime. Then there is Messenger P2P. It has the advantage placement. As it sets inside the largest social network in the world and its proximity to other daily uses like messaging itself bodes well for evolution coming in later stages.

GanePay with a Crown

GanePay is the only P2P service that delivers a lunchtime value add that is meaningful. The integration of discovery, sharing and tap n’ pay functionality give it the ability to create a value driven experience for everyone.