The photo-sharing app that’s all the rage with teenagers has found a surprising new clientele: Wall Street bankers and traders. Snapchat, an app that lets users send one another photos that self-destruct in seconds, is becoming increasingly popular in the heavily regulated world of finance — and it’s hard not to wonder if the trend is based on the mistaken belief that Snapchat messages truly disappear.
According to New York magazine, recent college graduates who picked up the Snapchat habit in school are now bringing it to their older peers at America’s largest investment firms. The app hasn’t quite reached the boardroom yet, but it’s increasingly popular with young finance professionals, who seem to regard Snapchat as a more spontaneous — and safer — communication method than email or Facebook. A junior analyst at a big bank told New York that he and his colleagues agreed to keep photos of their party-filled weekends off public social media profiles and share them via Snapchat instead. “We can all see them, laugh at them, and confidentially show them to people that won’t fire us.”
In fact, Snapchat isn’t a particularly effective strategy for keeping one’s private life private. The person who receives the photo can take a screenshot of it with a simple click of the iPhone. Even worse, a data retrieval firm recently said that it can restore all the Snapchat photos on an Android phone for a fee of $300 to $500. That company’s clients are often law enforcement officials, which means Snapchat might not be the best vehicle for sharing racy jokes, let alone proprietary information about a client.
For now, though, it seems as if most bankers are using the app for innocuous reasons. “I use it to show how lame I am. Taking pictures of myself, alone at my desk on the weekend,” a Goldman Sachs banker told CNBC.
Snapchat likely doesn’t care what they’re sending as long as they keep doing it. The app is now shuttling 150 million photos per day and is said to be raising $100 million in a new round of funding. With that kind of money its valuation could rise to as much as half a billion dollars. Eventually the quirky app might be a part of bankers’ daytime trading as well as their nighttime antics.