PSFK Speaks With Andrew Kortina of Venmo

The cofounder of a service that allows for payments through text shares his views on trust and the challenges of ubiquitous connectivity.

Andrew Kortina is a cofounder of Venmo, a text-based service that allows users to trust a network of close friends with the ability to charge or pay money directly through SMS.  Kortina was also a participant in Rhizome’s Seven on Seven event, where he collaborated with artist Kristin Lucas to concept the Identity Swap platform, an experiment in thinking about how we project our identities in the digital world. Kortina shares his insights on trust, connectivity and identity in the digital world below:

What projects or ideas are currently inspiring your work?

An idea or theme that I think about a lot is ubiquitous connectivity. We now have mobile devices that are pretty much always connected to the internet, and soon I think we will forget what it means to be disconnected. How do the expectations of kids who are growing up with ubiquitous connectivity differ from those of us who remember what things were like without the web? What sorts of new things are possible given this “always on” state, what is essential, and what are the new problems.

What has been the most interesting response to Venmo?

Responses are always emotional, ranging from “woah, this is life changing” to “that’s crazy!” Either way, as long as we get the emotion, we know we are doing something different and new. It’s just a matter of discovering what exactly it is people want from our service and zeroing in on that.

What do you think are the most important characteristics of identity that will persist, as new digital services emerge that essentially allow users to define themselves entirely in digital fashion?

Probably voice is the most important characteristic–I think it’s really important to have your own blog where you’re publishing your thoughts and owning your voice. It’s too easy for someone else’s data exhaust or some third party to publish a bunch of information about you that may or may not be accurate, so you have to be proactive about projecting the identity you want.

What is your insight on the challenges of establishing a culture where users are comfortable sharing deeply personal information digitally, like access to finances?

Part of the reason it’s possible right now is because of realtime connectivity and really tight feedback loops. You probably wouldn’t share your money with someone if you only knew a few days later when they used it, but when you know instantly, the feeback loop is tight enough to give you the control that makes you feel safe doing this.

Thanks Andrew!

Venmo
Identity Swap

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