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Snapchat partners with Square to debut Snapcash money transfers

In a surprise announcement on Monday, ephemeral photo and video messaging service Snapchat unveiled Snapcash, a person-to-person payments platform powered by Square.

Built in to Snapchat's direct messaging system, Snapcash can be used to seamlessly send money from a user's bank account to friends also registered with the program. To transfer cash, users simply enter a cash amount into a chat's subject line, such as $10.50, and press send.

Most of the heavy lifting is accomplished through a backend payments platform powered by Square. Users must first register a debit card from which funds will be withdrawn, or deposited, which will live on Square's secure server for future transactions. According to Snapchat, transaction times are nearly instant.

Snapcash appears to be a repackaging of Square Cash, an Internet-connected service that lets people send money to each other via email, app or the Web. Unlike Cash, which draws money from credit cards, Snapcash links directly with users' bank accounts, a feature already under scrutiny for security concerns.

We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you're dealing with money. 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.

Apple's recently launched Apple Pay service has reinvigorated interest in the digital payments space, especially as it pertains to mobile solutions. While the touchless NFC-based system is currently restricted to specialized point-of-sale terminals, it is theoretically possible that Apple could one day enable point-to-point transfers between iPhone owners.

Snapcash will be activated in an update to the Snapchat app later today. For now, the service is limited to users 18 years old and over living in the U.S.