Snapchat, like all other social networks, has one, big looming problem: monetization. In Snapchat's case the problem is even more pronounced, since so many other social networks have turned to advertising, especially Twitter, but advertising would actually be an impediment to Snapchat's core functionality.
Obviously there are other routes that it can take, including the selling of user data, another source of income for many others in the space. Now, though, we might have gotten a bit of clearer picture of the route the company might take.
Snapchat filed two trademarks late last week (credit to TechCrunch for spotting them) which indicate that the company is looking to monetize through some kind of payments system: maybe in-app, or possibly peer-to-peer.
Here is the exact language used in each one:
- The first trademark, serial number 86335306, is identified as being for, "Computer application software for processing electronic payments to and from others that may be downloaded from a global computer network."
- The second trademark, serial number 86335307, says that it is for, "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."
Now, its not exactly clear to me who the "others" are in this scenario (it was so hard for me not to make a Lost reference right there, you have no idea!). Does that mean that users will be able to send money to, and receive it from, other users? Or are those others going to be partners with Snapchat that are selling goods and services on the platform?
Honestly, it sounds more like the latter, especially considering what it says under "intent to use" on the form: "The applicant has a bona fide intention to use or use through the applicant's related company or licensee the mark in commerce on or in connection with the identified goods and/or services."
Either way, we probably just got a sneak peek at how Snapchat plans to not fall into the same trap as Facebook and Twitter, both of which went public without a sound monetization plan, and suffered the consequences, at least at first.
Snapchat has set the world on fire over the last year or so, raising $120 million and becoming valued at $2 billion. If the company ever wants to head into the big leagues, though, it needs to figure out how it can generate big dollars. Launching a payments platform would certainly be a good first step.
VatorNews reached out to Snapchat to learn more about its future monetization plans, but the company would not comment.
(Image source: business.financialpost.com)