Venmo was found to leak user transaction history by default, highlighting the need for private and user-controlled payment solutions.
Due in part to the social nature of the app’s design, payments platform Venmo was found to reveal entire transaction histories of users, including to those who were not Venmo users themselves. This setting was found to be enabled by default, meaning that a user would have to manually adjust privacy settings, both ongoing and for past transactions, in order to hide their history from being revealed. This may have resulted in sensitive financial data on millions of users becoming de facto public record.
Cryptocurrencies are rarely both private and usable
Venmo’s privacy issues may have many users looking to other alternatives such as cryptocurrencies. However, many do not solve this inherent privacy issue, despite a pseudonymous nature where users are not required to connect wallets with their identity. Online Bitcoin payments have been linked to identities, and linking between addresses can result in entire wallet balances being known, presenting similar problems to those experienced by Venmo.
Other cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash and Monero, provide much improved privacy features over Bitcoin, however they face usability issues for these features. Zcash has few mobile wallet options for shielded transactions due to technical limitations, and as a result approximately 13.5% are shielded. Monero employs an always-on privacy model in which 100% of transactions utilize enhanced privacy settings, however as a result average fees are frequently $1 or more, reaching nearly $2 in late July and hitting the $20 average level in late December.
Dash’s privacy features and usability focus make for a perfect Venmo alternative
Dash hopes to solve the winning combination of usability and privacy that has eluded Venmo and most cryptocurrencies. Originally name Darkcoin, Dash’s first offering was enhanced privacy, and PrivateSend still holds up today thanks in part to a sizable bug bounty program. In addition to privacy, however, Dash has shifted focus to usability for payments, maintaining some of the lowest fees in the business while offering instantly confirmed transactions, as well as a long-term scaling plan to mass-market levels. Additionally, the prime offering of the upcoming Evolution overhaul will be usernames, contact lists, friending, recurring payments, and several other features that are critical to providing a similar experience to Venmo except in a completely decentralized, user-controlled way.
According to Ernesto Contreras, Dash Core’s business development manager for Latin America, most users want the benefits of decentralized and global cryptocurrency combined with supreme ease of use:
“What we hear from our partners and users is that people want to have a hassle free, fast and cheap option to transact in their everyday lives, and think that cryptocurrency could fill that need because of the technology it’s built upon, but do not always know there are good, affordable options to solve existing pain points.”
Contreras believes that the Dash experience of security, privacy, and total user control, combined with a good user experience, speaks for itself:
“Once they make their first payment with Dash, they realize that it checks all those boxes, and additionally gives the safety of not exposing your transaction unless you decide to share your address, which totally empowers you as an user. That’s why when people try Dash, they keep using it, and the best example is the changing behavior as we are seeing some countries in Latin America.”
Dash has experienced a recent surge in Latin America, with Venezuela in particular claiming about 640 merchants and counting that accept Dash for payments. This is over one third of the global total of known Dash merchants, which is rapidly approaching 2,000 as listed on DiscoverDash.