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The Most Popular Reasons We Borrow Money From Friends Might Surprise You

Weed, strippers, and gambling—oh my!

Image via Pexels

If you’ve fully adjusted to the app-centric, mobile-obsessed 21st century, then you’ve likely used the mobile payment app Venmo at one point or another. For many, it’s an indispensable debt-settling tool among friends and a godsend for divvying up the check at large birthday dinners. “I’ll just Venmo you” has become the new “Do you think they’ll accept six debit cards?” That’s something servers and customers alike should be celebrating.


According to LendEDU, the app has processed $4 billion worth of transactions—and that was just in the second quarter of 2016. With Venmo growing at a breakneck speed, LendEDU Chief Technology Officer Matt Lenhard was curious to know what people are using Venmo for most. After analyzing more than 500,000 public Venmo transactions, Lenhard and his team discovered a few interesting things.

Image via LendEDU

For one, to decode Venmo transactions, you need to be fluent in emoji. From cryptic, funny strings of emoji to simple hearts and smiling faces, the message behind the emoji isn’t always straightforward. Quartz reported last year that police arrested a Columbia University undergraduate for dealing drugs and used the student’s euphemistic Venmo transactions as evidence. That being said, LendEDU found that the most commonly used emoji for Venmo transactions was a slice of pizza—and given how much Americans love a good slice, you can probably assume most of these people were paying each other back for food and not methamphetamines.

Image via LendEDU

In second place was the flying stack of bills, otherwise known as the universal sign for overpriced utility payments. Clinking mugs of beer took third place, while the quintessential house emoji came in fourth place because we all have to pay rent. While it’s not all that surprising that Venmo users (aka millennials) use Venmo mainly for food, rent, and utilities, it is somewhat striking that they feel comfortable paying for more illicit purpose, like drugs and gambling, in a public space. For instance, “kale” ranked 21st in the top hundred most popular terms used on Venmo. Based on that information, you can rest assured that a lot more people are reimbursing each other for weed than for a flavorless superfood.

And as for the 23rd most used emoji—the eggplant—we can only guess what that might mean.

To find the full results from LendEDU’s analysis, head over to its website.

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