Are digital payment apps hurting relationships with friends?

Lending money to friends or family doesn’t always turn out well, and a recent survey found nearly three in five people who have lent some money or picked up the tab for dinner expecting to get paid back say something bad happened.

Digital payment apps may be adding to it.

“Paying for group events is more common these days with things like Venmo and Cash App. (More people are) going out to a big group meal and expecting people to pay you back with one of those peer-to-peer apps,” said Ted Rossman at

While 39% of those surveyed said they’d probably let a debt of $100 from a close friend of family member go unpaid, there are ways to nudge a friend into paying back without being heavy-handed.

“Sometimes you can actually send an invoice of sorts via a service like Venmo. I think you could also have a conversation, or maybe you want to do it by text. Just say, ‘Hey, I need the money for XYZ,’ or ‘Oh, maybe it slipped your mind, but I’m hoping you could pay me back,’” Rossman said.

Among those surveyed who’ve lent to a friend or family member, 42% reported losing money, 26% said it harmed a relationship, 10% said it damaged their own credit score, and 9% said it led to a physical altercation. said younger adults are the most likely to have suffered at least one negative consequence of lending.

Rossman said there is an easy way to avoid any potential problem altogether.

“Generally, my advice is don’t lend money to family and friends, and don’t mix business and pleasure like that,” he said.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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