Snapchat debuts cash-scanning AR Lens to inspire donations for coronavirus relief

Scan any of 23 international currency notes and Snapchat will let you donate to the WHO's pandemic relief fund.

Snap Inc.

Snap is rolling out a new feature that lets users scan dollar bills in order to donate to the World Health Organization's (WHO) fund for COVID-19 relief efforts. The company says that with the Lens, holding any of 23 international currency notes up to the Snapchat camera will launch an AR visualization demonstrating how donations help the efforts, along with an option to quickly make a donation. Users can additionally encourage their friends to donate by sending them Snaps of the experience.


Snap is also making it easy for media brands to incorporate the WHO donation tool into their Discover content. More than 68 million users worldwide have viewed COVID-19 related content on Snapchat, according to the company, and Snap thinks placing a donation button on Discover content can help it make an impact.

Snapchat and COVID-19 — Snapchat has largely remained free of the type of COVID-19 misinformation that has plagued other platforms including Twitter and Facebook. That's probably in part because the company has always placed an emphasis on manual curation, selecting all the brands that are allowed to produce content for Discover rather than allowing anyone to participate. The company has released three Lenses worldwide that provide COVID-19 information sourced directly from WHO. It says these Lenses have been viewed by almost 130 million users worldwide.

It's been refreshing, at least, to see how hard all the major tech platforms are now working to provide users with accurate information. Past mistakes aside, allowing false information to thrive during a pandemic can result in deaths, and that's not a risk they can afford to take.