BETTER THAN CASH

A third of millennials have used Venmo to pay for drugs

Obsession
Future of Finance
Obsession
Future of Finance

A new survey finds that 33% of millennials have used Venmo, the payments app owned by PayPal that’s popular with the demographic, to buy illicit drugs.

The survey asked respondents if they had used the app to buy marijuana, Aderall, cocaine, or other illegal narcotics:

The survey was commissioned by Lend Edu, a fintech firm that lets users compare student and other loans. The company has run a number of surveys profiling millennial habits. Some 1,217 current college students were polled online in June.

In a statement to Quartz, Venmo said it takes compliance with the law seriously and that using the service for gambling or drug payments violates its terms of service. Its statement said: “If there is ever a situation where evidence of gambling or other illegal activity is brought to our attention, Venmo works quickly to take appropriate action.”

Venmo’s use as a conduit for drug payments is something of an open secret. A site called Vicemo tracks Venmo’s public feed of transactions to see “who’s buying drugs, booze, and sex” on the service (although the range of transactions it captures is very broad). In 2015, a man was arrested for dealing drugs to Columbia University students, and accepting Venmo payments.

Besides drugs, Venmo is believed to be used for illegal sports betting. A Quartz analysis found a spike in payments mentioning the NCAA basketball championships around the time of the games. Lend Edu also commissioned a survey to find out if millennials were using Venmo for betting, and 21% of them said yes.

Venmo processed $17.6 billion in payments in 2016. It’s trying to generate revenue by charging merchants to use it—its millennial users can continue using it for their personal transactions gratis.


Read next: The emoji of Venmo: food, booze, partying, and, occasionally, rent

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