Lessons from Cash App

Ana Andjelic
4 min readJan 9, 2022

Why turning commerce into culture is the best go-to-market strategy

Cash App is the most talked about mobile payment service around.

The app is developed by Block, Inc. and as of September 2021 reached $1.8 billion in gross profit and 70 million in annual transacting users. Venmo’s revenue for the entire 2021 is expected to be half that amount. Cash App is also ahead of Venmo in enabling users to send and receive bitcoin for free, generating Cash App $1.8bn in bitcoin revenue in Q3 2021. The latest Cash App Friday, where selected users are rewarded $100, $250 and $500, accumulated 72.6K likes and was retweeted 43.7K times. It’s an example of Cash App’s “play-to-earn” model, where user engagement is randomly rewarded and aimed at increasing both users and engagement.

Peer-to-peer payment networks are having an extended moment. About 65 percent of Americans are expected to bank online in 2022. Cash and credit card use has been in decline for years and the pandemic accelerated people’s move to contactless payments. There is also 63M Americans whose only financial option are money transfer apps. “People use Cash App as their primary bank account, and in some cases as their only bank account,” noted Jack Dorsey.

Cash App mastered the 4Cs of successful brand building — community, collaborations, content and curation — and turned them into its winning go-to-market strategy. The app’s strategy wiped away Venmo’s first-mover advantages and proved that the highest switching costs come from culture. (This is also Web3’s promise, to have people stay on a service or a platform because they like other people there, in contrast to Web2, where people stayed because everyone else was there.)

For the next generation of companies, the biggest network effect is culture, not technology. Long-term brand defensibility has more to do with whether a company can believably connect with culture through the shared things they like than if it has a proprietary product or acquisition channels.

Community. Cash App didn’t invent #CashAppFriday. #CashAppFriday already existed among its fans, and until 2017, Friday tweets came…

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Ana Andjelic

Brand Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Writer of “Sociology of Business.” Forbes most influential CMO.