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The idea, Crone explains, is that Venmo would take a cut—its standard rate is 2.9 percent plus a small flat fee, which is at the higher end of what merchants pay for a typical credit-card transaction—of not just in-app purchases like these, but of in-person transactions at physical checkout counters, where customers spend trillions of dollars a year. “You walk into any retailer, any restaurant, any service provider—what do they want you to do?Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter,” Crone says.Banks have rightly recognized that convenience, affordability, and ease of use are not characteristics that appeal uniquely to 20-somethings, and so they have in recent years collaborated on a payment platform that does more or less what Venmo does.

In the past few years, a handful of tech companies have recognized these inefficiencies, introducing apps—such as Circle Pay, Square Cash, and Venmo—that let users transfer money to one another’s bank accounts using their phones, relatively frictionlessly.Referring to the value of owning the platform that consumers directly interact with, Crone says, “The one who enrolls is the one who controls”—a phrase he went on to repeat five times in one conversation I had with him.Crone thinks that banks are worried about Venmo’s ambitions.Every year, billions of dollars change hands in needlessly clumsy ways.Parents realize they’re short on cash and go out of their way to stop at an ATM so they can pay their babysitter; grandparents mail checks as birthday gifts, which take days to arrive and days to clear.

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