Snappay? Snapchat may try to monetize by processing peer-to-peer payments, money transfers, or online payments, according to two trademarks it filed earlier this week. Owned by Snapchat and filed on July 11th by an attorney at Cooley, which is known to be Snapchat’s law firm, the trademarks could keep anyone else from entering the same space under the Snapchat name. After being tipped off to the trademarks by a source, I’ve contacted Snapchat and am awaiting a response regarding what exactly these trademarks are about. [Update: Snapchat declined to comment.]
Laugh it up all you want about Snapchat making your money disappear, this could be serious business.
Specifically, the two trademarks are for:
- “Computer application software for processing electronic payments to and from others that may be downloaded from a global computer network” – Trademark Serial # 86335306
- “Electronic transfer of money for others; providing electronic processing of electronic funds transfer, ACH, credit card, debit card, electronic check and electronic, mobile and online payments” – Trademark Serial # 86335307
Until now, speculation about Snapchat’s monetization routes has focused around advertising, in-app purchases of virtual goods, and sponsorships from brands for promoting live events. These trademarks paint a different picture.
It’s not the only one that might look to earn money on messaging through money transfers. Facebook recently hired PayPal President David Marcus to head up its Messenger division.
Snapchat has done some staffing of its own on the monetization front. It hired Instagram‘s head of business Emily White as COO in late 2013, and last month poached Facebook’s Global Director of its Preferred Marketing Developer program Mike Randall to be Snapchat’s VP Of Business And Marketing Partnerships.
If Snapchat does get into payments, it might allow friends to send cash back and forth, or buy things online with a credit card registered in its app, similar to Venmo. By taking a small fee on payments, it could earn money without forcing users to watch interruptive ads, buy filters, or have their experience cluttered with Our Stories from brands.
Imagine getting a flash sale Snap of a cool product from an ecommerce company. Snapchat could potentially let you pay to buy that product from within its app. The startup has also already dabbled in commerce. It provides links for users to buy from iTunes the (awesome) songs it features in its announcements of new features, like Strange Talk’s “Young Hearts” or Goldroom’s “Embrace”.
At the very least, Snapchat may have filed the trademarks to keep the option of processing payments under its name open.