Someone touching the Venmo app on their phone.

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Venmo delays payments for Palestinian relief funds

Venmo has had similar incidents in the past.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published May 19, 2021   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 3:32 pm CDT

Venmo, the popular cash-sharing app, is blocking some payments that reference certain words related to Palestine.

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The blocking comes amid ongoing conflict and violence between Palestine and Israel in recent weeks. As the conflict continues, people have been raising money to send to those affected.

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A Twitter user posted a screenshot of Venmo asking them for more information about their $50 payment, which included the words “Palestinian Relief Fund.”

In the screenshot, Venmo asked the user to outline the “purpose of this payment, including a complete and detailed explanation of what is intended to be paid for and the establishment/location.”

Other Twitter users have also shared similar screenshots.

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News outlet Rest of the World tested transactions with various Palestine-related keywords and found that ones that were labeled “Palestinian emergency relief fund” and “Emergency palestinian relief fund” were flagged by the app, but other words like “free palestine” and “palestinian emergency” were not.

Venmo told Insider that the blocking of transactions with the specific keywords was due to its “adherence to U.S. economic and trade sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.”

The news outlet noted that groups like “Palestinian Relief Fund,” “Palestine Development and Relief Fund,” and “Palestinian Relief Society” were among the groups listed on the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions list.

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“We strive to balance these obligations with the urgency of our users’ desire to send humanitarian aid. We understand the importance of these transactions and apologize for any delay that may occur as we work to quickly process payments in compliance with applicable law,” a Venmo spokesperson told Insider.

This isn’t the first time users have noticed that particular countries elicit blocks from Venmo. Earlier this year, the Daily Dot reported that Venmo had blocked payments mentioning Syria and Iran.

The app has also held up payments for review that included “Persian” in the description.

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*First Published: May 19, 2021, 10:59 am CDT