P2P Apps; Who’s the Fairest of them All?

by Sarah Grotta 0

Mobile apps concept in flat design style.

Consumer Reports conducted a review of the most popular P2P apps.  They focused not on usability as much as security and data privacy.  I won’t keep you in suspense, here are their results of their review conducted from December 2017 through July 2018:

P2P Service Score
Apple Pay 76
Venmo 69
Square Cash App 64
Facebook Messenger 63
Zelle 50


Some background on what Consumers Reports was hoping to achieve from the study:

Our ratings focus on how well the services authenticate payments to prevent fraud and error, secure user data, and protect privacy, but we also looked at the quality of customer support, how clearly they disclose fees, and whether users are bound by mandatory arbitration, among other factors.

Our goal in testing the services was to give consumers shopping for a mobile P2P service more to go on than just a friend’s invitation—a frequent way consumers told us they currently choose a P2P service, says Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology at Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

“We’re trying to help people make informed choices and think about safety elements they might not have previously,” says Brookman. “Our test results are also intended to push P2P developers to be more accountable regarding security and privacy matters.” 

What struck me about the results of study is first, none of these apps scored particularly well.  Apple received the highest rating of 76 out of 100 which is not a glowing endorsement.  Secondly, it rated Zelle last and Zelle is a product of Early Warning Systems, whose 25-year company legacy is fraud prevention and data security.  Note that the Zelle product reviewed was the stand alone app and not Zelle integrated into a financial institution’s digital banking solution.  It would be interesting to know if the same tests conducted with a financial institution integrated Zelle product would have returned different results.

To help with issues of misdirected funds, Zelle is adding a feature which will prompt the sender to confirm the name of the individual they intend to send funds to after the email or mobile number for the recipient is entered.  It’s an extra step, but worth the effort if it cuts down on the issues of funds sent to the wrong individual.

Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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