CFPB warns against keeping money on payment apps: Here’s why

by Randall Smith,

In an era of digital convenience, payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, and Apple Cash have become increasingly popular for their ease of use and quick transactions. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is cautioning users against storing substantial amounts of money within these apps.

One of the primary concerns emphasized by the CFPB is the growing threat of cybercrime. Payment apps, though equipped with security measures, are not immune to hacking attempts or data breaches. Storing significant sums of money within these platforms increases the potential for financial loss if unauthorized access occurs. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, exploiting vulnerabilities in apps and tricking users into revealing sensitive information. By limiting the amount of money stored in payment apps, users can mitigate their exposure to financial risks associated with cyberattacks.

Another critical aspect highlighted by the CFPB is the disparity in regulatory protections for funds held within payment apps compared to traditional banks and credit unions. While banks and credit unions are subject to strict regulations and offer federal deposit insurance, payment apps typically operate under a different regulatory framework. In the event of a failure or insolvency, users may not have the same level of recourse or guarantees for their funds. Therefore, relying solely on payment apps to store significant amounts of money could potentially leave users vulnerable in unforeseen circumstances.

Unlike traditional banks and credit unions, payment apps generally do not offer interest on stored funds. By keeping money in a payment app, users miss out on potential interest earnings that could be accrued in a savings or investment account. Over time, this could lead to a significant opportunity cost, particularly for those who hold substantial amounts of money within these apps. Allocating funds to traditional banking products that offer interest or exploring investment options can provide a more viable means of maximizing financial growth.

While payment apps provide convenience and quick transactions, the CFPB advises users against keeping significant amounts of money on these platforms. The rising cybersecurity threats, limited regulatory protections, and lack of interest earnings are factors to consider. By maintaining a balanced approach to storing funds, users can safeguard their finances and explore more beneficial options for long-term financial growth.

Randall Smith is the co-founder of, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust.