A couple of months ago, while catching an Uber with a friend, I asked for their bank details to send my share for the ride. They flippantly replied, “Oh, just Beem it. ” I had never heard of the app before, but I’m a bit download-happy, so I decided to give it a try.
While the setup took a little bit of time – it involved inputting my name, card details, mobile number, email and verifying some ID – from there, it was a breeze. On the home page I clicked ‘pay’ from a list of options, put in an amount, entered in the username of someone also on Beem, wrote a message and pressed send. My friend and I use different banks, so I thought it would take forever, but it was instant. Sans setup, the whole affair took under two minutes.
I was so excited by this and buzzing to use it everywhere, but barely any of my friends have Beem and they seem resistant to try another app. So, I’m using this article as an excuse to convert any friends to my favourite app of the moment.
What is Beem?
Beem is a free-to-download Australian app that was founded in Sydney in 2017. Its website states that the business’ mission is to be the “mobile payment app that helps solve those awkward ‘hey-you-owe-me-this-much’ moments for all of Australia”. Beem currently has 1.5 million users registered across Australia and has moved $1 billion in transactions.
Beem can be used to send money, request money, and transfer money between bank accounts (even if they’re in different banks). It can be used to transfer money between two linked debit cards, schedule payments, pay bills via BPAY and create Groups with up to 30 people to split expenses. You can also show a QR code to pass someone your details.
Another possibly not important but cool feature is that you can use emoji reactions and send gifs to give that “cute and customisable feel”. I had one co-worker tell me that her friends have a designated emoji they use when one of them pays back the group late as an ongoing joke.
Why do people use it?
Like the rigorous journalist I am, I posted a couple of polls and questions on my Instagram to do some deep research. I had around 98 people reply, a mixture of Gen Z and Millenials, all based in Australia, with a rough 50/50 split between city and regional areas.
In response to the poll “Have you heard of Beem before?” 65 per cent replied yes and 33 per cent said no.
When asked why people use Beem as their preferred money payment app, I got a whole range of responses. Many people get referred to the app by friends, family, partners or, like one of my mates, Darcy, found out about the app “because of the money for referral thing it had when it first launched. I was poor as fuck at the time, and it helped me eat. Also PaylD wasn’t widely being used at the time”.
Most people use it for transferring money between friends, especially on a night out where keeping track of shouts gets messy after a couple of rounds. There were a few mentions of Beem being used to “set the standard amongst friends” and that it “lowers the anxiety of asking for money” due to the transactional nature of requesting.
I also had a couple of mates let me know how the ability to have a level of anonymity, like choosing any username you want and transactions just showing up as “Beem” in a bank statement, can be useful to certain communities. My mate Darcy explained that this “provides a level of security for people ranging from sex workers to trans people who don’t want their deadname shown in a transaction”.
My friend Georgia said they use Beem when they do market stalls by posting up the QR code to their account and shared that it is a commonplace app in the world of film. “I would say 100 per cent of people I work with use it regularly”.
Another theme was the love of the group feature. Amiera explained she uses Beem regularly for “group trips or a gift, can just make all the payments in the same app instead of having to go to your banking app to make transfers!” Apart from this, the group feature gets a workout amongst share-house members to pay bills, split groceries and other household expenses.
Why do people NOT use Beem?
Of course, Beem is not the app of choice for a lot of people. I initially presumed this was simply due to a lack of awareness, but it turns out some people have actual beef with Beem.
Some issues raised were that the app “ looks complicated” or that some people “don’t trust the app” and felt it wasn’t secure like existing bank apps.
One friend shared that they had no issues with the app per se but didn’t have enough people around them with Beem to make it worth downloading.
Regarding safety, Beem is backed by Australian payment provider EFTPOS and also promoted by a number of major banks such as CommBank, Westpac, NAB, Bank of South Australia and Suncorp. Any suspected fraudulent payment can be reported through your primary bank, and Beem says all the information it has is encrypted, and that it authenticates every transaction as well as having fraud monitoring in place.
Others said they have experienced the app being “glitchy” for them, such as not accepting their credit card/bank details or just closing on them altogether. While we have reached out to Beem for comment, any issues with the app can be reported directly to [email protected], or you can log in to your account and use the Help>Contact Us link to send Beem a direct message.
On more serious concerns, I had a couple of femme friends also tell me that they or their friends have had toxic exes, “request money and use the message part to attempt communication”. On investigation, there is a block feature on Beem where you can go to the person’s profile and select the ‘Block contact’ option. It’s terrible that people would use apps this way to harass people, so I’m glad there’s an option if we don’t want to receive messages from someone.
The simple money payment market has many options out there purporting to make people’s money lives easier. These include different mobile banking apps, PayPal, and Splitwise, an option I learned about during this research.
Many people mentioned Splitwise as an equivalent app for Beem, and that due to glitches they experienced with Beem, that they prefer to use Splitwise. However, when mentioning this to my friend Maggie she was quick to clarify with me that Splitwise is a tool to track expenses and calculate who owes what but not to send money. She says to me “I hate Splitwise, it’s not automatic you have to then go to your bank and copy the amount and copy the details whereas with Beem it’s just instantaneous – it’s Chef’s kiss behaviour”.
Tbh, I’m still sold
Across the board, I got drastically more positive reviews than negative about the Beem app.
This is reflected in the Apple App Store reviews, too, with a 4.9 rating over 82.8K reviews. For Android users, though, it seems to be a slightly different reception, with a 3.8 rating over 12.6K reviews.
Even when weighing up the experiences across the board, I still feel just as (if not more) passionate about Beem being a useful app for the digital money age, and I will continue to push the Beem agenda onto all my friends.
Overall, it’s quick, easy and, like my sis Phoebe D perfectly puts it, “does the math for me and my lil’ brain”.
You can learn more about the Beem app here.
We are not financial advisers here at Lifehacker, so please always seek out specific advice from a qualified professional when it comes to your finances. This piece simply looks at the nifty benefits of the Beem app.
Lead Image Credit: iStock/Beem
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