If you’ve ever been sending a Snap while simultaneously wishing you could pay your friend back the $20 you owe them, you’re in luck. Snapchat recently announced the release of a new feature, called “Snapcash,” that allows you to send money through the picture sharing app.
On November 17, Snapchat announced the new feature, which allows users to send money to their contacts by swiping into chat, typing the dollar sign followed by an amount and hitting send. In its blog announcement, Snapchat describes Snapcash as “fast, fun and incredibly simple.”
Despite its purported simplicity, Snapcash has been met with skepticism from many Snapchat users. “I don’t like it,” says Anna Marie Paolicelli, LSOE ’15. “I just don’t think it’s the right platform for Snapchat because it’s more of a picture sharing, fun app.”
To create the Snapcash feature, Snapchat partnered with Square, a financial service and mobile payments company. After the user enters their debit card information to sync Snapchat to their bank account, Square stores the financial information while Snapchat messaging provides the vehicle for the transfer of funds. Snapcash recognizes when the dollar sign is typed in a message, turning Snapchat’s send button into a green “$” button. The funds will be directly transferred into the recipient’s account.
Using Snapcash automatically makes the user a Square account holder, benefiting Square by increasing awareness of the company to high school and college aged kids who are Snapchat’s primary users. Venmo, a money-sharing app, is also popular with the younger demographic of users.
If Snapchat and Square hope to seriously compete with options such as PayPal and Venmo, they have their work cut out for them. “Why would an app used to send pictures to your friends now be used to send and receive money?” asks Jason Benitez, A&S ’15. “I’d rather use apps that are actually meant for that, like Venmo.”
In an attempt to counteract the criticism that this is an unsecure method of transferring money, Snapchat reassures its users that there are several security requirements for the newest feature. Snapcash is restricted to users 18 years and older and is only available with a Visa or MasterCard. If the payment isn’t accepted in 12 hours, the transaction will be cancelled and the funds will be returned to the sender’s bank account. The maximum amount of money that can be sent through Snapcash is $2,500 per week. Additionally, all payment information is managed by Square, not by Snapchat.
However, this isn’t completely reassuring. Some critics wonder if Snapcash will encourage nude photo sharing in exchange for money, among other concerns.
“How many people’s drunk friends are going to be sending their money to people?” asks Sterling Karakula, A&S ’15.
Snapchat used a peppy video, featuring green and gold clad dancers on stacks of overblown dollar bills, to announce the release of the Snapcash feature. But despite this enthusiastic introduction, users are left with the impression of its ridiculousness. And considering Snapchat’s original purpose as a casual picture-sharing app, many users are questioning the point of its newest feature.