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What we know about the economic recovery from the emoji being used on Venmo

  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Published Last updated on

The Covid-19 pandemic has crushed some sectors of the global economy, with shuttered businesses leaving many people jobless. Others have been buoyed by it, as consumers have shifted their behavior and spending.

Many of these shifts are apparent in transactions made on Venmo, a PayPal-owned payment platform for people in the US. Our analysis of emoji used in over 68,000 transactions from March 2020 and March 2021 suggests there are fewer transactions related to paying for haircuts, rent, and toilet paper, but more related to celebrations, recreation, and sending love.

How we calculated emoji use on Venmo

The figures here are based only on the transactions Venmo displays on the public feed inside its app, which represent a subset of all of Venmo’s public transactions. This sample contains the messages and other metadata for over 13,600 transactions from March 2020 and over 54,700 from March 2021. The values of the transactions are not public. We grouped together emoji of different genders, skin tones, and hair colors. For instance: 💇🏻‍♂️, 💇🏾‍♀️, and 💇🏽‍♂️ are all counted as 💇. We excluded transactions with businesses. Emoji usage is calculated relative to the total number of messages that contained emoji in each month, rather than the total number of transactions we collected each month.

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