How One Young Man’s Call for Beer Money Paid Off Big on Venmo

September 13, 2016         By: Steven Anderson

It’s the kind of thing that might mortify a mother, but for young Sam Crowder, it was an all-too-necessary call to action.

Crowder made a brief appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay, holding up a sign that entreated his mother to send him “beer money”, and including his Venmo ID to make it easier for his loving mother to send the simoleons for suds his way. What happened afterward, meanwhile, showed the impressive power of Venmo and mobile payments in particular.

Instead of a $20 for brews for him and his friends from Mom, over 2,000 people sent Sam Crowder his beer money, enabling him to potentially open up a microbrewery of his own rather than settling for other people’s beer.

Venmo itself even chipped in $50, and though the smallest amount that Venmo users can send is $0.01, it’s a safe bet that, with over 2,000 people sending cash and Venmo itself accounting for $50, Sam’s likely got at least $70 to his credit.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time this trick has been done; astute financial watchers point out that a College GameDay attendee from 2013 offered up a sign with a QR code and a Bitcoin address, so panhandling on ESPN isn’t exactly new; it just takes a little time to recharge the giving impulses of college football viewers.

Some are already projecting that some ambitious young man—or woman, potentially—will hit up College GameDay viewers sometime in 2019.

When some college kid can get over 2,000 donations just by holding up a sign on a sports show, you know the era of mobile payments has really arrived.

Unconventional uses of material like this are inevitable, and just show us the widest range of potential use cases. It’s a marketing tool, a tool for charitable giving, and even a way to get a few bucks in beer money from some sympathetic sports fans.

The farther along we go with mobile payments, the more likely we are to see these unexpected uses come up.

That’s a sign people are really exploring the options, and with that exploration, we get great new opportunities for further use beyond anything previously imagined.