Facebook is delving deeper in social commerce with a peer-to-peer mobile payment feature for its Messenger app.
Now, Messenger users will be able to tie their debit card information to their Facebook account, and send money to friends through messages.
Vin Farrell, global chief content officer of Havas Worldwide, thinks the peer-to-peer payment feature will be beneficial for brands. “[It] will open new doors for large [companies] but even more so, small businesses. The aggregation of micro-communities within Facebook, combined with the ability to financially transact on the platform, could level the playing field for the individual as well as small businesses,” Farrell explains.
The new feature will allow Facebook to serve as a bridge to help users transfer money without charging extra fees. For the time being, the company doesn’t plan to include credit cards in its system.
“We use the system to push money into the accounts associated with debit cards. We can’t do that with credit cards because people could end up with a positive balance, which the credit card companies don’t want,” a Facebook spokesperson tells ClickZ.
Since Facebook will be able to collect users’ debit card information, data becomes a critical piece for this new product. “When a Messenger user pays others, it’s likely that they just made a purchase. That purchase history is a very valuable advertising asset,” says Ryan Urban, co-founder and chief executive (CEO) of digital marketing company Bounce Exchange, adding that Facebook could leverage that data to serve contextual ads across desktop and mobile.
However, Urban adds that Facebook could have a tough time scaling this new feature. “In other markets like China, Alipay and WeChat are very successful integrating payments. But my worry is the U.S. market is more saturated: Google, Apple, and PayPal all have been doing mobile payments,” he says. “Also, not many Facebook users have the Messenger app downloaded on their mobile devices.”
Whether Facebook will conquer the peer-to-peer payment space with this move remains to be seen. For now, the payments feature will see a phased rollout and it will soon be available to everyone in the U.S.
Homepage image via Shutterstock.
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