Two Snapchat trademarks filed last week suggest the company may be considering a monetization plan that relies on peer-to-peer online payments, a revenue-generating strategy already used among messaging apps in Asia.
The July 11 applications include a “computer application software for processing electronic payments to and from others” (Trademark Serial #86335306) and the “electronic transfer of money for others” (Trademark Serial #86335307). Snapchat declined to comment.
Ben Katz, chief executive of Card.com, said Snapchat wouldn’t be the first to rely on money transfers between users to generate revenue.
“There’s a lot of precedent for this in Asia,” Katz said. “Just like you can send someone an emoticon, you could send someone $4.”
Late last year, Japanese app Line rolled out an e-commerce platform, Line Mall, that lets users sell and purchase products in a digital marketplace. And WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, allowed users to gift cash to their friends in the shape of red envelopes to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Snapchat, which reportedly turned down Facebook’s $3 billion offer last year, has largely kept mum over how its ad-free app would bring in revenue. Similar to the payment service app Venmo, Snapchat could turn a cushy profit skimming cents off each transaction. As of May, the Venice startup said it was processing 700 million photos and videos a day.
“Snapchat has to find a way to monetize,” Katz said. “Without user data to sell to advertisers, maybe a better way is to sell … peer-to-peer money transfers.”
If successful, the company could keep its app from becoming cluttered with ads and users would feel less pressured to buy in-app features. But that doesn’t mean Snapchat has completely abandoned traditional means of monetization such as advertising and sponsorships.
Within the last month, Snapchat has added two new features that could allow businesses to advertise special events within the app. On Tuesday, the company released its latest update called Geofilters, which lets users add location-specific filters to their photos and videos. Snapchat’s Our Story, which stitches together photos and videos uploaded from an event, debuted in June during Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival.