The pattern of emoji use in messages on the platform not only shows how US consumers are sending money, but also the cadence of the economic year, from gift-giving to March Madness to a round of golf.
Quartz analyzed the public feed of Venmo transactions that the company displays to all users when they open the app. Although it’s just a sample, it still includes about 50,000 transactions per month. The payment amounts are not displayed, but all users can see the messages attached to them. Venmo requires a message alongside every transaction, and often, users just use one or more emoji. Venmo is only available in the US.
While a redesign removed these transactions from being displayed in the app, the web address that provides the list is still operational.
Peak months for popular emoji on Venmo
In December it’s 🎁. In March it’s 🏀. Certain emoji are tightly tied to seasons and annual events; these are the popular emoji where usage burns hot and fast:
December is filled with messages featuring Christmas imagery: 🎁, 🎅, 🌲.
The ❄️ and 🍪 peaked in February. February is also when mentions of Girl Scouts peak.
The NCAA college basketball tournaments are played in March. St. Patrick’s day is also during the month, it’s no surprise that both 🏀 and 🍀 peak then.
Here are all the highly seasonal emoji, and when they peaked from December 2020 onwards:
🍫 🎁 🎄 🎅
☀️ 🍀 🏀
(The 🏈 also peaked in January, but at a lower level)
Emoji usage on Venmo by day of the week
The ebb and flow of emoji usage on Venmo doesn’t just change over the course of the year, it varies by day of the week, too. These are the emoji that peak on different days throughout the week.
⛳ 🌭 🍳 🏨 🚕 🥓 🥯 ❤️🔥
Depending on your device you may see the heart on fire as two emoji—❤️ and 🔥.
🌹 🍼 🏃 🏐 💥 📚 📸
🌼 🍫 🏆 📦 🔌 🔙 🤞 🥎 🧼 ☎️
💇 💐 💳
🌺 💁 📞 😷
🍼 🎄 🎅 🏠 🏡 👦 👧 💸 📞 📱 😈 🙄 🧹
🍕 🍖 🍹 🍺 🍻 🦀
How emoji use on Venmo differs from everywhere else
Compared to the global use of emoji, the emoji popular in Venmo transactions are quite different.
While the most-used emoji in the world in 2021 was 😂, according to data released by the Unicode consortium, on Venmo it only ranked 73rd. 💸 , 🍕 and 🏠 rank second, third, and fourth on Venmo but 233rd, 208th, and 209th globally. Global usage and Venmo usage align more closely for ❤️ , 😘, and 🎉. Each of the 10 most-used emoji on Venmo are relatively more popular on the app than elsewhere.
The most popular emoji combinations on Venmo
Of course people don’t always just use emoji one at a time. They use them together to add meaning or specificity. The popular pairs of unique emoji in 2021 are associated with transactions of people paying rent 🏠💸, phone bills 📱💸, contributing to parties 🎂🎉, and Christmas 🎅🎄.
The most popular groups of three unique emoji included messages associated with paying utility bills 💦🔌🔥, celebrating holidays (🦃👬🙏 and 🎅🎄🎁), and paying for sandwiches—be it a 🍞🐷🍞 or a 🥓🍳🧀.
How we calculated emoji use on Venmo
The figures here are based only on the transactions in the public feed on Venmo. They represent only a subset of all of Venmo’s public transactions, containing the messages and other metadata for 625,000 transactions from December 2020 through November 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 marked as involving a business. Repeated emoji in the same message were only counted once. The local time of the sender and recipient are not revealed in the data. For the day-of-the-week analysis we set all transaction dates to US Mountain time.