Snapchat Partners With Square for Peer-to-Peer Payments

Snapchat is partnering with Square, a mobile point-of-sale tool popular with small businesses, to launch a new way to send money to friends.

Square Cash launched last year, a money-sending service open to any legal adult with a debit card and an email account. “We loved it so much that we wanted to create something with [Square] that felt Snapchat-y,” Snapchat wrote in a blog post. Snapcash works the same way, with Square handling the actual payment processing and storing the information securely.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments are nothing new for social media: last month, a French banking group created a mobile payments service for Twitter, while Facebook is also rumored to be planning an entry into P2P. Snapcash does mark a few firsts, however; Snapchat has never teamed up with another company to create a new feature and Square has never been involved with social.

Entering the social space – especially with Snapchat, the fastest-growing social platform – could potentially boost Square’s name and appeal. Lesley Pinckney, vice president of interactive at marketing agency Walton Isaacson, points out that the more P2P and mobile payments become commonplace, the more Square’s relevance is threatened.

“I think Square is sort of where Garmin and TomTom were, that the original premise has been leapfrogged with Apple Pay so now they’re playing defense,” she says, referring to the vehicular GPS units that have largely been rendered obsolete by smartphones.

At the same time, Pinckney finds the partnership odd and inconsistent on Snapchat’s end.

“The premise of Snapchat is sort of content disappearing and I think pairing that with money is just a bad idea,” she says. “Some tracking has to exist for it to be verified so I think it starts to chip away at what the brand stands for.”

“Snapcash introduces a branding problem,” agrees Jonathan Rick, president of the eponymous communications firm specializing in social media management. “The service is predicated on transience and frivolity. Traditionally, these are not values we associate with our bank account.”

Rick adds that while he understands the desire for a start-up as hot as Snapchat to capitalize on its momentum, there’s a difference between innovating and trying to do everything.

Though Snapchat is available all over the world – the photo messaging app has been the top free app in 13 countries’ App Stores – Snapcash is only available to U.S. users for the time being. Snapchat could not be reached for comment.

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