What happens if you accidentally send money to the wrong person—or even worse, you become a victim of fraud? And unlike cash, apps track your transactions and then potentially sell or share that data for marketing purposes.
We dove into the privacy and security policies of each tool to figure out how they secure data and protect payments, and how much information they share with third parties.
You can find a lot of different mobile payment options out there, but we decided to stick with the most popular: Apple Pay, Facebook Pay, Google Pay, PayPal Mobile Cash, Square Cash, Venmo (which is owned by PayPal), and Zelle. For each app, we looked at several key features: basic details about data security, transaction and account security, and how the service shares data. We dug into the privacy policies of each app and monitored traffic during transactions using Disconnect’s Privacy Pro iOS app, which displays a feed of any website the phone sends data to. (Keep in mind, though, that even if data isn’t shared live it may still get shared later.)
Here’s the short version: If privacy is your main concern, stick to the apps from Apple or Google whenever you can, even though doing that comes at the cost of those companies adding even more of your behavioral data to their already abundant collection. If your main concern is sending money to the wrong person, use payment apps that offer QR codes or link sharing, such as Facebook Pay, PayPal Mobile Cash, Square Cash, or Venmo; all of those services, though, have some quirks when it comes to privacy concerns.