(Pocket-lint) - Facebook might not have been able to buy Snapchat before it became the next big thing, but that doesn't mean it's going to let the ephemeral picture messenger become your go-to app for communicating with friends. That's why it's announcing a rival money-sending feature.
Let's go back first: Snapchat partnered with Square in 2014 to launch a feature called Snapcash. It lets you pay for goods or simply send money to friends. Transferred money is immediately debited from your bank account and appears instantly in your friend's bank account. During our brief testing, we found Chase made funds immediately available, for instance. All we needed was a debit card, and there were no transaction fees.
But Facebook is now officially competing with Snapcash. It just introduced a similar feature in Facebook Messenger that gives Facebook users a direct way to send or receive cash without any fees involved. Your money is once again transferred right away to a friend's bank account, but apparently, it might take up to three business days for the funds to actually become available. It all depends on your bank.
Keep reading if you're interested in how else these features compare and contrast. We're hoping to help you choose an option that's best for you.
How do they work?
Snapcash works like this: Open the Snapchat app, then go to settings, and enter your debit card. Once you’ve linked your card, you can send cash to anyone in your contact list. Just swipe right on a friend’s name in your Snapchat feed (the same way you would to use the chat feature), then type a dollar sign with any dollar amount (like $11.50), and hit the green button. You'll have to confirm and send the money still, but that's it.
The first time you send or receive money in Messenger, you’ll need to open the Messenger app and add a Visa or MasterCard debit card issued by a US bank to your account. Just tap Pay in the top right and simply add your card. To actually begin sending money via Facebook Messenger, start a message with any friend, then tap the $ icon, and enter the amount you want to send.
Also, when you want to accept money for the first time, you'll have to open the conversation from your friend, then tap Add Card in the message, and add your debit card.
Are they safe?
Snapchat card details are securely stored by Square, which is a mobile payments company co-founded in 2009 by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, so you don't need to worry about a Snappening-type hacking scandal that will result in you losing money.
There is also an initial $250 weekly limit when you send money. When you send more than $250 in one week, you will be prompted to verify your identity to increase the sending limit (verifying includes entering your full name, date of birth, etc). There's also initial receiving limit of $1,000 per 30-day period, and just like when you send more than the limited amount, you will be prompted by Square to verify your identity.
Facebook said its had a trustworthy payments processor since 2007, and that it processes more than 1 million transactions daily on the site. It's new feature incorporates all the same safety practices, such as a secure system that encrypts the connection between you and Facebook, layers of software and hardware protection, and a separate payment system that's kept separate from other parts of the Facebook network.
It's not clear yet if Facebook Messenger stipulates amount limitations when sending and receiving money, but Facebook said you can create a PIN to provide additional security the next time you send money. If you own an iOS device, you can also enable Touch ID. On top of all that, Facebook has a team of anti-fraud specialists who continually monitor for suspicious purchase activity.
Where are they available?
Snapcash is only accessible in the Snapchat mobile apps. Any Snapchatter in the US can use the Square-powered feature right away, as long as they are 18 years or older and have access to a debit card.
Facebook's new money-sending feature will roll out to its Messenger apps for Android and iOS as well as the desktop site in the coming months. It's available to any US-based Facebook user.
Want to know more?
Which one is for you?
Since both features are free to use, it's really up to you.
Facebook doesn't say anything about age limitations, but it did admit transferred money might not be immediately available to you, whereas Snapcash has an 18-or-older age limitation but appears to make transferred money immediately available. We had a chance to play with both features and found them easy to use and understand.
It all boils down to your personal preference
They worked seamlessly, transferring and making money available right away (at least via Chase). We do have many more friends in our Facebook Messenger contacts list though, so that's something to keep in mind if you're considering using only one of the two features as a day-to-day means of splitting checks with friends or sending/receiving money between friends.
If you have more friends using Snapchat, then go with Snapcash. If you have more friends using Facebook, then go with Facebook Messenger.
Another thing to keep in mind is amount limitations and platform availability. Snapchat has limitations on the amount you can send or receive, but it's not yet clear if Facebook has amount limitations. That said, Facebook Messenger's money-sending feature is available in the US across all its mobile apps and Facebook.com, but Snapcash is only available in the US through the Snapchat apps.
It all boils down to your personal preference and practicality, essentially.