The battle to help you split that pricey dinner bill is heating up. Today Snapchat introduced a new, built-in feature called Snapcash that allows users to send and receive money. The popular photo-sharing app currently has over 100 million users all over the world, but the new Snapcash feature will only be available to Snapchatters in the U.S.
"We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you're dealing with money," reads the blog post on Snapchat's website. The startup has partnered with Square to securely store billing information and process the payments.
In recent months, Snapchat has been incorporating additional features to expand beyond its origins as a simple tool for instant photo and video sharing. In October 2013, it introduced Stories, a timeline-like feature that allows users to share and collaborate on collections of related content. In May of this year, it added a direct messaging feature.
While Apple, Google and Amazon continue to develop their mobile payments offerings, already-established players like Square, Stripe and PayPal are looking to capture the peer-to-peer payments market, usually smaller payments sent directly from one user to another as a quick and efficient way to split a bill or chip in on larger expenses. Square Cash allows users to exchange money by sending an email, and in 2013 PayPal acquired Venmo, one of the leading peer-to-peer payment apps.
Because these smaller payments are inherently social, it makes sense that companies like Facebook, Twitter and now, Snapchat are getting involved. Last month Twitter unveilved a peer-to-peer payment feature for users in France. Meanwhile it has long been rumored that Facebook is preparing a similar payment component for its Messenger app, rumors that gained traction when the company hired PayPal's David Marcus to run it.
As for Snapchat, this new feature gives the popular app a subtle way to start collecting users' debit card information that can be used later on to seamlessly pay for add-ons or upgrades. It sure could help justify that recent $10 billion valuation.