Facebook users will soon be able to send money to each other through the social networks’ Messenger mobile app.
The functionality has been built and is currently installed on the iOS application - Facebook simply needs to flick a switch to make the service active, according to an iOS developer and security researcher who published screenshots on Twitter of how the service will work.
Andrew Aude tweeted to say: “Facebook Messenger has P2P [peer to peer] payments coming,” along with three screenshots of the app in action, plus code making numerous references to a payments system within the app.
The update would let Facebook users send money to each other during conversations within the Messenger app, using either a credit/debit card already held on Facebook’s system (for game payments, for example), or a new card can be added. Payments are kept completely private and nothing about them is published to the user’s Newsfeed.
For now it is unclear whether Facebook will look to monetise the system, either by charging users a small fee, or requesting payment from card issuers like MasterCard, Visa and American Express for each transaction their customers make through Messenger.
'Multiple payment attachments will be supported in the future'
Initially payments will only be possible between two people, but a note in the application’s code suggests payments to multiple recipients will be a future feature. “In the short term, we will only support single payment attachment. Multiple payment attachments will be supported in the future.”
An in-app PIN is used to add a layer of security although it isn’t fully understood how this would work.
Either way, the revelation suddenly explains why Facebook hired David Marcus, formerly the president of money transfer service Paypal, as the new head of Messenger this summer. The system will see Facebook go up against Paypal and Square in a bid to capture the peer-to-peer money transfer market - and with more than one billion active users, many of which use Messenger daily, the potential upside is obvious.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year that “there will be some overlap” between Messenger and payments, adding: “The payments piece will be a part of what will help drive the overall success and help people share with each other and interact with businesses.” However, he was quick to point out “there’s so much groundwork” for Facebook to complete before the system will go live.
Source: Andrew Aude (Twitter)