Not another payment app...

PayPal, Venmo, WeChat, Zelle, Apple Pay. We are inundated with payment apps. When it comes to settling up, their philosophy is “the sooner, the better.” The are the obvious solution when we need to make a quick and often one-time transfer of payment. However, not all of our transactions are so final, nor all our financial relationships so simple. How we approach a transaction with, say, a stranger ought to be different from how we approach a transaction with a family member with whom we regularly exchange money. When it comes to more complex, longterm financial relationships, payment apps can actually create unnecessary overhead.

Not Another Comic

Let’s step back for a moment and think about the philosophy of a transaction via a payment app, and why it works for strangers. The essence of making a payment is the transfer of money from one party to another. The only way to reverse this transaction is to initiate a new one–to return the payment. This is what all payment systems are designed to do. Since a payment is final, it is very important that the payer has clearly identified themselves and provides clear instructions to pay. Inherently, this places a burden on the payer - to log in, type in a password, enter a security code, choose a recipient carefully, and input the amount correctly.

When we make a payment to a stranger whom we can’t possibly trust and may never encounter again, this is how it needs to be. When we make a large payment payment to someone we only have limited trust in, or who needs to use the money immediately, it also makes sense.

However, many transactions in daily life are between people who trust one another and interact frequently. Often they are for small amounts. Right now, if a friend paid for, say, your coffee or groceries, your choices are to pay them immediately (often inconvenient), pay them later (easy to forget), or simply forget about it. Which option you choose depends on the amount, the person, and the situation. “Pay them later” is a common choice, but in practice often equates to “Forget about it,” as it can uncomfortable to bring up the transaction after some time as passed, especially if the amount exchanged was small.

When it comes to transactions with friends and family, agreeing on what is owed is often more important than the act of settling up. Flextab is designed to make it easy for people who trust one another to remember transactions, without the burden of settling up every single time. Its accessibility and low overhead makes logging a transaction almost instantaneous, so you can pay later. In short, it separates the act of agreeing what is owed from the act of paying. One of Flextab’s guiding principle is that adding a transaction should be as simple as possible so that the inconvenience of dealing with payment can be postponed to a future more appropriate time.

Apps vs Flextab