Snapchat adds free phone number verification to its list of SDK perks

Lucas Matney

Snap's latest developer offering is a tool called Verify that's aiming to save its mobile-first developers cash on verifying user phone numbers en masse. The new tool is being integrated into its Login Kit framework, allowing devs with a "Log In with Snapchat" button to move away from tapping services like Twilio for SMS verification, instead checking with Snap to see whether that user has already verified their number with Snapchat.

Snap Kit lead Patrick Mandia tells TechCrunch that his team has been working on the feature for more than a year, aiming to create "an easy, private way to verify phone numbers at no cost to developers." Mandia says that because phone number verification is already a core part of Snapchat's login flow, the company wanted to create a way for companies inside its SDK to verify phone numbers with them rather than tapping an external service.

Verify basically works by checking whether the phone number a user just typed into the login flow of a Snap Kit app matches the phone number associated with the Snapchat account they used to log in to the app.

Rather than sending users a verification code, Snap Kit handles this all in the background. If the user has verified that number within the past year, Snap will okay the verification. If a user doesn't have a phone number on file with Snapchat or hasn't recently verified that number, Snap will carry out that SMS verification on their end with the user, keeping it on file so the number can be confirmed through Verify on other Snap Kit applications.

At its annual partner summit last week, Snap shared that it now has 800 developers on its Snap Kit platform that collectively reach 150 million users on a monthly basis. The social messaging company has been looking to grow that network through features that tap into its network of resources rather than its network of user data.

"Traditionally, when you think of these platforms, the value is data. The value is what data a third party is going to be able to get about you and your friends, and that turns out to have some real issues,” Snap's VP of Partnerships Ben Schwerin told us. “So, we took a much different approach, which is that Login Kit is going to power really creative, unique experiences and that’s going to be the value for partners."

In a conversation with Snap last week, the company connected me with Yolo co-founder Greg Henrion whose app operates on the Snap Kit platform. He says that his app is spending "above six-figures" on a monthly basis just to verify phone numbers.

"The idea that we have portfolio companies spending $1 million per year to verify text messages is pretty crazy," says Josh Miller, an investor at Thrive Capital, which backed Yolo.

For consumer app developers with a user base that overlaps significantly with Snapchat's, the new feature offers them something that could save them cash right off the bat. Yolo's situation is certainly unique, Snap Kit is the only way to log in to their platform, so Verify will take care of almost all of their SMS verification spend. Yolo's outsized spending on SMS verification is also an outlier; the startup says about one-third of their run rate is devoted to it.

Verify with Snapchat is free and is available for Snap Kit developers starting today.

Snapchat looks to maintain its own friendships — with devs

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