Facebook is Hungry for Mobile Payments

By Sicily Axton
Originally posted on BankDirector.com April 17, 2015

Facebook isn’t just satisfied with having more users than any other social media in the world. They’re craving their piece of the future of mobile payments. With the recent announcement to offer peer-to-peer payments through its Messenger app, Facebook is seeking to establish a deeper connection to users’ finances and to take a bite out of traditional financial transactions. 

Facebook Payments is completely free and will first be available via Messenger to users in the U.S. only. The feature can be used on the desktop or within the Facebook Messenger app, which launched last year as a companion to the Facebook app. Once a Visa or MasterCard debit card is linked to the Facebook account, users can open a chat with a friend, tap the dollar sign icon, type in the dollar amount and press send. That money is deposited to the friend’s bank account within a few days.

t’s a similar process to the already extremely popular peer-to-peer payments app Venmo, owned by PayPal, which was one of the first apps to take a social network approach to mobile finance. With Venmo though, you see payment interactions between all of your friends in the app. It doesn’t show dollar amounts, but the captions, comments and likes between users tell a story of what those people are up to and spending money on, and with whom, which is a lot like what you discover scrolling through a Facebook News Feed.

The move to make Messenger a separate app from Facebook, disassociating it with the News Feed and adding more privacy, was strategic though. Rather than mixing your payments with everything else you find on Facebook — pictures and posts from friends, games, location check-ins, advertisements — it may make handing over your payment information more appetizing if it’s in a separate app within a private message.

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