Sorry buddy, but you still can’t “venmo” in Canada today.
For an app whose parent company, Paypal, is available in Canada, you’d think that they’d consider expanding out there in the Great North, eh?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Canadian banks are perfectly content with the Interac E-Transfer system, and for Venmo, the Canadian market just isn’t big enough to warrant complying with all the regulations.
And, that might be for good reason. With the availability of E-Transfers at practically every bank in the country (many of which are free from fees), there simply isn’t very much reason to implement a new peer-to-peer payment system. That’s because they’ve got a good thing going.
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Venmo Canada — Why Is It Appealing?
For millennials, the appeal of Venmo is that it is much easier and more fun to use. It’s a digital wallet that seamlessly transfers money to your friends and family but it also has its social feed that you can use to send messages and emojis to your buddies.
In an Interac transaction, one has to log in to their bank account, use an e-transfer to send money, possibly pay a small fee, and then wait 1-60 minutes for it to show up.
A Venmo transaction, however, is instantaneous. Open the app, send the money and it’s done. Or, send a cute money request with emojis to downplay the awkwardness, and that’s about it.
The best part is, that there are no transaction fees for sending or receiving money using Venmo unless you use a credit card, in which case it is 3%. Nor does Venmo have monthly or annual fees. A user can easily connect a debit or credit card to the app, which makes it even more convenient.
As of 2022, there are over 83 million Venmo users and over 516 million daily Venmo transactions. In the US, it is the popular p2p payment app among the 25-34 age demographic, with users averaging about five transactions per month.
All this online activity has resulted in Venmo carving out a large slice of the market. In 2021, their revenue reached $850 million — an 88% increase over their 2020 revenue. Paypal has owned Venmo since its parent company, Braintree, was acquired by Paypal for $800 Million back in 2012.
So Why Isn’t Venmo in Canada?
The reason why users can’t have Venmo in Canada is because of how the app has been set up.
Venmo requires its users to have bank details in the US, a US phone number, and, usually, a Social Security Number. This means you can’t use it to send money abroad, even if it’s just a neighboring country, like Canada.
While the app could certainly be expanded to Canada, this would require Venmo to conform to Canadian financial reporting laws, which may not be worth the hassle given the size of the market.
The Canadian banking market is largely controlled by the ‘big 5’ (Scotiabank, CIBC, RBC, TD, and BMO). Furthermore, many of Canada’s second-tier banks (like Tangerine) are wholly owned by one of the big 5. With the widespread E-Transfer option between >95% of all banks in Canada (many of which are free from fees), there isn’t as much demand for a Venmo-like payment option in Canada.
Also, Canada has some of the strictest banking policies and regulations when it comes to digital payment platforms. This makes it difficult for any foreign company like Venmo to come in and be a player in the local digital payment scene without significant investment.
The end result? Any money transfer that’s processed through Venmo requires both the sender and recipient to be a US Resident.
If I Can’t Use Venmo In Canada, What Are My Options?
E-transfers are the #1 way that Canadians like to send money to each other. Essentially, these are bank-to-bank transfers through email. Just log into your account, add your recipient’s email address or mobile number, and the amount is easily transferred.
Most banking institutions in Canada are linked with the Interac service, so it’s easy for anyone to send money digitally to anyone with an email address and a Canadian bank account. You don’t even need to download an app; you can access Interac through your online banking account.
As of June 2022, there are over 250 banks and financial institutions active on the platform.
The downside to this app is that you can’t receive money from the USA through this. For that, you’ll need to go with one of the other options on this list.
Formerly known as Transferwise, this London-based app has been known to be the best choice for sending money through bank transfers. It has some of the cheapest rates around. Monito, a transfer comparison site, rates Wise’s transfer service as “excellent”.
Wise supports 50 currencies worldwide and is regulated by FINTRAC in Canada. You can transfer large amounts of money from one bank account to another without any expensive charges. There are over 13 million customers who use Wise for money transfers, which is a testament to its reliability and convenience.
The only downside to this app is that it does not have any option for cash pickup. It also doesn’t support cash or cheque payments. Transfers get deposited directly into your bank account, usually.
Sign up for a Wise account here.
PayPal has earned its spot on this list because it’s a pioneer in digital payments, is widely available, and is convenient.
As an app, it’s the leading choice of merchants since it was designed for a business-to-consumer platform, unlike Venmo which is designed for peer-to-peer payments (which is different than peer-to-peer lending). You can, however, open a personal PayPal account so that you can send or receive money from friends and family.
As of 2022, there are 6.4 million Canadians who are using PayPal for business or personal purposes. It’s easy to use and there are minimal charges when sending money to friends and family in Canada.
The downside to this is that if you are using PayPal to transfer money internationally, the exchange rate and transfer rates can be very expensive. Monito, for instance, does not recommend it for international money transfers. They can also charge an inactivity fee for inactive accounts.
But, if you’re looking for a widely acceptable service and aren’t concerned about fees, then Paypal might be the best option for you.
Sign up for a Paypal account here.
Venmo In Canada Summary
Don’t go looking for Venmo in Canada. The popular payment platform hasn’t expanded to Canada and is therefore not available to Canadians.
If you’re in the US, and you want to send money to Canada (or vice versa), then we recommend that you use one of the international money transfer sites and apps that we’ve listed above (besides e-transfers).
And if you’re looking for a cool and hip way to transfer money within Canada, there are always the alternatives like Paypal, Wise, and good old-fashioned e-transfers.
Either way, Venmo Canada isn’t a thing yet, and it likely won’t be anytime soon. Instead, use what’s available, and you’ll get by just fine.