Apple Pay Cash and other mobile wallets can make you look like a Scrooge in the eyes of your family, friends, and even partners.
The problem with these peer-to-peer payment apps is that you can settle to the penny for meals and other shared things, which is perceived as “petty,” in the study’s own wording.
Researchers at the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, and the University of Virginia were curious to learn how people feel about not rounding to the dollar when making a digital payment.
When people settle debts in cash they usually round up the sum to avoid any change hassles. For instance, for a debt of $9.96 or $10.06, most people will pay $10 and $11, respectively. Mobile wallets have fixed the problem by allowing users to pay the exact amount of the debt.
However, the mobile apps may have a huge downside, as users can look petty to their peers if they don’t round up.
The study, which involved 206 Amazon’s Mechanical Turk workers, revealed that people who make online payments and do not round up the sums were perceived as “petty” by 81% of study participants.
By contrast, people who rounded to the dollar the amount being owed were more likely to be befriended by participants. Study participants believe that exact amounts make the payments look “impersonal,” just like a business transaction is being involved.
Short-chargers were seen as “petty” if they penny-pinched their friends, i.e. paid $10 instead of $10.05.
Romantic partners can be turned off by people who round up their purchases, too. Researchers sifted through dating sites and found that most people were less likely to stay committed to partners who settled to the penny.
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