Snapchat, Square want to make it easy for you to send cash

The social networking service popular among teens jumps into the mobile payments market.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Ian Sherr
Donna Tam
2 min read

Snapchat's latest feature: Money transfers.

Let's hope Snapchat's latest feature doesn't make your cash disappear.

Snapchat, known for sending photos that immediately disappear after being viewed, has teamed with payment processing service Square to help users send money to one another. The unusual pairing gives Snapchat a new feature its larger competitors like Twitter and Facebook can't yet match.

The system is remarkably simple: start a message, use a dollar sign and give the amount.

"The product you're seeing today is fast, fun and incredibly simple," Snapchat said in a statement.

The move marks Snapchat's latest effort to expand beyond disappearing messages. In the three years since launching, Snapchat has become synonymous with a new breed of social-networking services that focus on simple communication of either a photo or video. The company has said users send 700 million photos and videos a day.

The new Snapcash service ties two big trends. The first taps into Snapchat's popularity among the 14- to 34-year-old set, according to industry researcher eMarketer. That age group also happens to be the largest without a bank account, according to surveys by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The Snapcash service could help change that.

Mobile payments are already skyrocketing, due in part to the popularity of smartphones and new services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. In the US alone, mobile payments are expected to nearly triple to $142 billion in 2019, up from an estimated $52 billion this year, according to Forrester.

One of the companies at the center of this trend is Square. Originally known for its mobile credit card reader for very small businesses, the company has expanded its service to include payments through a debit card issued by a bank and tied to an account for transactions. Square Cash, as it's called, was launched a year ago to help users send money to one another with a debit card via email or text message.

Of course, Square isn't unique. PayPal offers a similar service with Venmo.

While it's unclear how big the peer-to-peer money transfer industry actually is, Square said in August its users had sent "hundreds of millions of dollars" to one another. Last month PayPal reported customers used Venmo to send $700 million in payments in the third quarter -- a 50 percent increase from its previous quarter.