Snapcash will initially only be available to users in the USA

Snapchat launches payment service

Picture messaging service Snapchat has launched a payment service enabling users to send money to contacts via the firm’s mobile app.

The service has been built in partnership with Square Cash, a payment-processing service that allows users to send money via email by typing the amount required into the subject line, and will initially be available to users of the app over the age of 18 in the USA.

But the firm has recently come under scrutiny following a hack that saw more than two million users’ account names and phone numbers leaked online. And just last month, thousands of explicit photos taken within Snapchat were posted online after hackers targeted a third-party app which saved users' Snapchat photos.

A comment on the Snapchat blog post announcing the service said: "Okay so why would anybody want this? The first thought that came to my mind was its probably gonna be super easy to hack..."

Photos and videos sent via Snapchat are meant to disappear after 10 seconds and cannot be retrieved – unless specifically posted using the app's Story feature, which makes them viewable by friends for up to 24 hours.

But unofficial apps that allow Snapchat photos to be saved to the Cloud exist and it was one of these services, rather than Snapchat itself, that was targeted as part of the photo leak.

Nonetheless, Snapchat was keen to ease concerns over security now that bank account details are part of the service, pointing out that details would be held securely by Square.

"We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you're dealing with money," said the blog post. "Square has a ton of experience in this area and our teams have been hard at work to make Snapcash a great experience for everyone."

Working with Square, the firm has built new technology that will recognise the dollar sign when typed into the app which will then trigger the payment feature.

"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 (eg $11.25), and hit the green button."

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