Square’s Cash App is More Popular Among Low FICO Users

Posted by Frank Gogol

KEY FINDINGS

  • 54% of Cash App users have a credit score of less than 600
  • Top 5 states by number of users: TX (15.28%), CA (14.99%), FL (10.49%), NY (7.99%), GA (6.69%)
  • Cash App transaction volume grew by 10x (April 2019 – June 2020)
  • Cash App Users Make 6.4 Transactions Per Month (June 2020)
  • Average transaction volume per user has doubled overall, has grown by 2.5x for users with credit scores under 650 (April 2019 – June 2020)

Cash App is a name that’s been on a lot of people’s lips lately. The peer-to-peer money transfer service debuted in 2013 from Square Inc. and has firmly established itself among the premier transfer services with the likes of Venmo and PayPal.

Over the last 6+ years, the fintech company has made big strides. 2020, however, has been a big year for Cash App.

The San Francisco-based financial services company reported $1.92 billion in net revenue for the second quarter of 2020 — a 64% YoY increase.

A big part of Cash App’s recent success is a huge boost in users. The app’s userbase grew from around 24 million users at the end of 2019 to 30 million users at the end of June 2020.

Those users appear to be very happy with Cash App’s services, too. One user wrote in a recent review:

” I absolutely love Cash App. When I get paid and have the money directly deposited onto my card, my ATM fees are reimbursed for a month after. It’s easy, and quick to borrow or loan money. This app is financially revolutionary.”

Another wrote:

“Best money app I’ve ever used. Not a single issue in the whole year I’ve used it. Much better than PayPal!”

Given Cash App’s incredible growth in 2020, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to take a close look at who was using the app and how.

54% of Cash App Users have a Credit Score Less than 600

The first thing we looked at was who is using Cash App. To get a sense of the composition of the app’s userbase, we broke it down by users’ FICO scores.

According to the data, more than half of Cash App’s userbase have credit scores under 600. Each successive credit score bucket has a smaller portion of that userbase.

72% of Cash App’s Users Come from Just 10 States

After we got a picture of who was using Cash App, the next thing we looked at was where the app’s users are located.

We found that just four states (Texas, California, Florida, and New York) make up just under half (48.75%) of the overall Cash App userbase. The top ten states account for a large majority (72%) of the Cash App’s users.

These ten states are among the most populated in the U.S. and many of them have major cities in them. So, it’s not particularly surprising that Cash App has found userbases in each.

It is surprising, though, to see Texas edge out California, considering the latter has about 1.4x the population.

Transaction Volume Grew by 10x Over the Last 15 Months

Next, we took a look at how Cash App has grown over the last 15 months. The first growth are we dug into was transaction volume. We wanted to know how much Cash App users were transferring each month.

Over the last fifteen months, transaction volume on Cash App has seen fairly steady growth. From April to October 2019, transaction volume ebbed and flowed from month-to-month, but generally went up.

Transaction volume growth mostly stabilized (at ~7x that of April 2019) for the period between November 2019 through February 2020.

Then, in March 2020, we see transaction volume starting to tick up every month, reaching nearly 10x that of April 2019’s transaction volume.

One explanation for the rapid uptick in transaction volume could be the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Many American citizens received a stimulus payment as part of the CARES Act, legislation meant to ease the financial burden of the crisis. Cash App was one of the peer-to-peer payment services that allowed uses to direct deposit their stimulus payments. This like led to an influx of users who then proceeded to use their stimulus money via the Cash App platform.

Cash App Users Make 6+ Transactions Per Month

Next, we looked at how the number of transactions per user grew over time.

Transactions per user also saw consistent growth over the last fifteen months. From April to December 2019, the number of transactions per user on Cash App grew from 4 to 5.43.

For the first two months of 2020, transactions per user were in decline, but then surged starting in March and peaked at ~6.8 transactions per user in May.

Again, this lines up with the influx of users and funds (via stimulus checks) into Cash App during the last four months of the data set.

Average Transaction Dollars Per User More than Doubled

After seeing that users have been making more transactions on Cash App over time, we looked to see how transaction volume had grown on average for individual users.

Like in the above analyses, a close look at Cash App’s transaction volume per user show’s that the platform has been, in spites of ebbs and flows, growing over time.

The average transaction volume per user in April 2019 was $429.36, which grew to $758.81 by October of that year. Growth dipped a bit at the end of 2019 and was stagnant into the first few months of 2020.

Then, beginning in March, transaction volume per user took off and reached its highest point of the data set in June 2020 ($930.70) — more than double what it had been in April of last year.

Transactions Volume Grew by 2.5x for Users with Credit Scores Under 600

Lastly, we dug a little deeper into transaction volume for individual users. We looked at how much the users with the highest FICO scores transferred compared to those users with the lowest credit scores.

When you look at transaction volume by credit score, you get an even more interesting story.

Overall, transaction volume for Cash App users with the highest credit scores grew by 1.6x between April 2019 and June 2020. Transaction volume for those users with the lowest credit scores, though, grew by 2.5x during the same period.

This is telling, but make sense given what we know from the above analyses.

We know the overall transaction volume was up between March and June 2020. We also know that more than half of Cash App’s userbase has a credit score under 600. So what this graph tells us is that Cash App users with lower credit scores are increasing their number of transactions per month more quickly and more consistently than their high-credit-score counterparts.

Unlike with some of the above analyses, thought, this uptick in transaction volume precedes the COVID-19 pandemic and related stimulus checkers, This suggests that user confidence in and adoption of Cash App was already growing among those users with the lowest credit scores.

Why Are Lower FICO Score Users More Drawn to Cash App?

So why do those with lower FICO scores use Cash App more? 

David Baddeley of ScottishTrustDeed thinks it might be a combination of ease of access and CashApp being an alternative to big banks. 

“Cash App is used by those with a lower credit score as it’s an easy and efficient way to transfer money rather than using bank accounts etc. Those with lower credit scores tend to feel that banks and financial institutions are against them and how they use such services. Therefore, an app that can substitute this would be more than welcome in the eyes of those that don’t understand finance.”

In an era when distrust of corporate entities is on the rise and the number of financial tools and options is ever-growing, Baddeley makes an interesting point. It makes a certain amount of sense that those who’ve, essentially, been told by financial institutions and ruling bodies (like Experian) that they’re unworthy would look elsewhere. And with the rise of new financial technologies that have lower barriers to access than many bank products, it’s likely these trends will continue to increase.

Methodology

The findings in this analysis are based on data collected from more than 5,100 Cash App users who applied for a loan with Stilt between Apr 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

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