Earlier this week, Snapchat announced its movement into the mobile payment world with Snapcash, a feature that lets you send money to other Snapchat users with the push of a button. As the company explains, it’s as simple as entering a dollar sign before a cash amount and pressing send. The app works in conjunction with Square Cash, which saves users’ debit info, and sends payments directly to a recipient’s bank account upon confirmation.
This has naturally raised a lot of questions. Is Snapchat, a photo messaging app associated with silly, fun content, and sometimes pornographic pictures, really the right place for sending money? One of the reasons why Snapchat is so popular is that anything you send disappears right after the recipient sees it. Does incorporating money into the process create an unwanted air of responsibility and permanence that users are trying to avoid? On the flip side, will the possibility of sending cash between anonymous users create a space for illicit transactions?
Most importantly, what about security? Snapchat got into hot water last year when a site called SnapchatDB.info publicized the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million accounts. What could happen when users have their debit information tied to their accounts too, even considering Square Cash will handle the transactions? Also, when sending money is as easy as typing a dollar sign, will this also make it easy for cell phone thieves to withdraw their victim’s bank accounts? Snapchat currently has no login protection on their app so the only line of defense would be the cell phone’s password.
On the plus side, the Snapcash interface is extremely easy and intuitive. It could be instrumental for turning on Snapchat’s young demographic to mobile payments, though users have to be over 18 to send money.