Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will invest $200 million in Snapchat, the vanishing-image service, Bloomberg News has reported.

US media reported last year that Snapchat -- which allows the sending of text and photo messages that disappear seconds after being viewed -- had held discussions with Alibaba.

A person familiar with the deal said Alibaba had committed to a $200 million investment.

Alibaba declined to comment.

Bloomberg News, which also quoted sources on the investment, said the deal valued Snapchat at $15 billion.

Snapchat's chief executive officer Evan Spiegel declined to comment, Bloomberg reported, quoting him as saying: "We are famous for not talking about the future."

Snapchat rocketed to popularity in the United States, especially among teenagers, after the initial app was released in September 2011.

Alibaba, founded by entrepreneur Jack Ma in 1999, is China's biggest e-commerce company but is seeking to expand beyond its traditional business.

It listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year in the world's largest public offering to date.