You will have all heard of Snapcash by now. It’s Snapchat’s new product made in conjunction with Square that allows users to perform debit transactions after inputting and saving card details. In case this latest bit of news had passed you by, there’s a really weird video made by Snapchat that explains how it works. You can see it at the end of this article.
Sure, it’s a great way to settle smaller debts you may owe to friends and family, but dig a little deeper and it’s plain to see: Snapchat have made their first foray into the world of sex-tech and they may just already have the perfect app with which to do so.
Look at it this way: are you really going to force your way in to a market already full of competitors such as Google Wallet, PayPal and Venmo in order to satisfy a few customers who are splitting a lunch bill or owe a few dollars to a friend?
The tech blogosphere have either been strangely quiet or missing the point entirely when it comes to the origins and motives behind Snapcash. Techcrunch see Snapcash as a new and more efficient way of piling targeted ads onto their users. That’s all well and good, but how many of the app’s users are going to be coerced into buying a new television when they’re too busy creating and viewing their temporary photo messages? Snapchat’s unique this-message-will-self-destruct-in-ten-seconds feature doesn’t offer enough in the way of focus or attention span.
The normally reliable Business Insider misfired altogether and devoted the most space to reprinting the lyrics from the Snapcash jingle.
MarketWatch came closer still, but in a display of either ignoring the obvious when it’s right in front of you or strongly hinting at something else said: “When Snapchat unveiled a peer-to-peer payments service on Monday, your first thought might have been: Why would I want to send money through an app best known for being a conduit for sexually explicit messages?” Not one other site has stuck their neck out and been able to make the final and clearest connection of all. A number of Twitter users have been able to see right through Snapchat’s obvious play into the world of porn, however:
Nothing says “secure money transfer service” like Snapchat. Now girls really can charge for nudes. — Nate Gilbert (@NateGilbert) November 18, 2014
Despite porn being responsible for around 325% of the internet’s content, many big companies have point-blank refused to allow internet sex workers to continue earning a legitimate living, citing very vague moral concerns.
As PayPal closes adult accounts and makes things as difficult as possible for such people and with Amazon trying to stifle adult performers’ wishlists it seems that there is a burgeoning market for sex workers to earn their daily bread, one which Snapchat may be on the way towards taking over.
As BaDoink reported when we brought you news on the brand new Taboo app, the Apple Store is another corporate entity that makes life as difficult as possible for companies and individuals who want to promote sex-tech and their users. It stands to reason that a big player such as Snapchat would want to increase their revenue stream while avoiding the controversy that surrounds it. Snapchat’s ability to be used a sexting app is no secret (hence all those panicked expressions when there was a security breach earlier this year) and really, the following scenario writes itself. A number of cam models already use Snapchat to engage with customers and solicit their services. Now that Snapcash is here, the models will be able to deal directly with their customers when it comes to transactions. The process has become so much easier.
Let’s not forget the level of simplicity that Snapcash will be operating at. You strike up a contact with a cam girl via Snapchat, you negotiate a fee for one or more pictures, the money is exchanged between client and model and the pictures are sent. After ten seconds, they largely disappear forever and both parties remain satisfied.
In short: the messages disappear but the money doesn’t. Cam models and other industry workers have been using Snapchat to conduct business for a long time already. Brea Winter is one model who both uses Snapchat already and can only see positives from the arrival of Snapcash.
“I use Snapchat on a daily basis to keep in touch with clients and entertain them throughout the day,” she said. “I haven’t used it yet to meet new clients but I think the new Snapcash feature may make that possible. I’m hoping it will make accepting tips very easy and help me expand my clientele.”
In terms of negatives, it’s just a fear of the same old tricks from the rogue’s gallery of criminals the Internet is so adept at creating. If Snapcash and Square keep a tight rein on their security procedures, they may well have the perfect SexTech app on their hands.
“I haven’t had problems with Amazon or PayPal but I have come across all the typical scams using the Amazon & PayPal brands. I am a little worried that with Snapcash will come the latest way to potentially scam people. Hopefully if the new feature is secure enough, that doesn’t happen.”
All of this secrecy though; it’s a real drag. Why can’t companies just shout it from the rooftops and deal us a little truth?
“I think a lot of tech companies try to target to the mainstream population, who still view porn or webcamming as taboo” said Brea. “If tech companies side with them and shame or punish adult workers, then they appeal to their audience more.” Could there be a more appealing prospect to the discerning cam model looking make their money?
You don’t have to be Columbo to see that Snapchat have instigated a genius but no less devious move into SexTech and pornography. While praise should be lavished on them in some quarters for finally making the big leap forward, some of the numbers involved just do not add up.
Square, who will be responsible for holding Snapcash users’ info, have some very heavy backers. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Starbucks and even Richard Branson have thrown their lot in with Jack Dorsey, Square’s co-founder and CEO.
Dorsey is also one of Instagram’s Series A investors, chiming in to a collective investment of $7m in February 2011. This is the same Instagram who ask its users to consider the fact that “if you wouldn’t show the photo or video you are thinking about uploading to a child, or your boss, or your parents, you probably shouldn’t share it on Instagram.”
So what are we to believe? That age-old, world-turning financial institutions have suddenly thrown caution to the wind and decided to invest in SexTech with no fanfare or even rumor? That a company man with years of experience, millions of dollars to invest and a full knowledge of attitudes to porn in business has ignored all that and either completely forgotten about Snapchat/Snapcash’s potential for nude fun and frolics?
There’s more than a big load of money to be made from sex-tech. Apps such as Tinder and Snapchat are nothing but glorified hook-up apps that only hide behind a veneer of courtship, romance and/or friendship in order to appease other investors and an industry that seems even more determined to bury their hands in the sand at the sight and potential of sex-tech. It’s a sad state of affairs. At least Grindr has the good grace to bypass such falsehoods and give it to you straight (which is the biggest irony of all!).
Perhaps if Snapchat, Square, their investors and their contemporaries realize the money-making potential and finally understand that these are workers and customers committed to long-term, satisfying and legal transactions they might not be so ashamed any more. Only then may Silicon Valley and other tech hotspots follow suit.
We get that you’re obviously doing your best to hide it, but Snapchat… welcome to the adult industry. Snapchat and Square were approached for comment but have yet to respond.