Consumer Reports is out with its first test of peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payment services.
The editors looked at Apple Pay, Zelle, Venmo, Facebook's P2P Payments in Messenger and Square's Cash App.
All five services were rated good enough to use.
Apple Pay had the highest overall score – 76 out of 100 points – with "excellent or very good marks" for key consumer protection measures: payment authentication and data privacy.
“We think Apple Pay does a better job in that area because they appear to collect less information about you when you're using their service and Apple is adamant that they're not selling that data to others,” said Christina Tetreault, Consumer Reports financial services expert.
For those who don't use Apple products, Consumer Reports says Venmo, Cash App and Facebook P2P Payments were good performers, but all three had fair scores for data privacy. Zelle came in last place.
P2P makes money transfers easy, but it’s not risk-free
Peer-to-peer mobile payment services are really growing in popularity. About 70 million U.S. adults have used a P2P service, according to a survey by Fiserv, a financial services technology company.
These services are free and easy to use and especially popular with millennials. But unless you're careful, you could send money to the wrong person, or be taken by a scammer.
Consumer Reports encourages users to opt-in for stronger security, such as a PIN. Right now, only Apple Pay makes you confirm every payment.
Because these transactions are often instantaneous and irreversible, only send money to people you know. Warning: Scammers are trying to cash in on the growing popularity of P2P services.
Before you approve the payment, double check all the information. Make sure you have the right user name, phone number, photo or other identifier.
The Federal Trade Commission has a tip sheet on peer-to-peer services.
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