Piers Dillon-Scott


SnapChat's peer epayments system is a crazy idea – and that's just what the industry needs

Square and SnapChat's peer-to-peer payments system, SnapCash, is a crazy idea, but the epayments industry needs crazy ideas if it is to grow.

As revolutions go, this one is taking a while; since 2010 Jack Dorsey’s Square has been revolutionising how we manage money electronically. And it’s been a hard nut to crack.

Square hasn’t yet changed the epayments market – at least not as much as many would have expected – but in many ways that’s not surprising. epayments are still new – we don’t know what form it will eventually take.

Square is still in the discovery phase. So far, they've released six different services, and shelved one or two of them. This week, they announced their latest experimental service – SnapCash.

Working with SnapChat, Square has developed a peer-to-peer payments service that sits within the ubiquitous app. With SnapCash people will can use their Square account to send cash to other SnapChat users.

With 100 million users, Square is hoping that they can expand their user-base and also tap into the instant response/reward mentality of SnapChat. This concept also appeals to the makers of SnapChat. Indeed, during the announcement this week SnapChat were keen to emphasise the service’s quick and fun nature,

“The product you’re seeing today is fast, fun, and incredibly simple. After you enter your debit card, it’s securely stored by Square, who will swiftly process your payment and send cash directly to your friend’s bank account. Just swipe into chat, type the dollar sign, an amount (e.g. $11.25), and hit the green button.”

SnapCash may work, or it may not – in the long run that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Square is experimenting with its services. By releasing different products and services it’s challenging the traditional payments industry. By experimenting with different payment methods they are getting closer to defining the epayments industry.

The lessons learned from this and other Square experiments will help the epayments and peer-to-peer payments industries grow.

Links for this week cover the banking experience design, Norway's beautiful new passport designs, and Disney's UX tipping point


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Illustration: Patrick Cusack

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