Facebook to Give PayPal and Venmo a Run for Their Money

Facebook could be planning to add a peer-to-peer payments service into Facebook Messenger, according to some code one user has dug out. If true, the move would give current payment services such as PayPal and Venmo a run for their money. 

The code was found by Stanford University computer science student Audrew Aude, who tweeted that he had found – and played with – a payment feature in Facebook Messenger, using the iOS and Mac OS X hacking tool Cycript.

If legitimate, Facebook’s Messenger payments service will allow users to send money between friends as easily as it would be to share a photo.

Aude reported on Twitter that “with FB messenger, you attach money just like you attach a photo or a location. You don’t even have to link a bank account.”

Instead, you will put in your debit card number – with Aude noting that there is no option to add a credit card or bank account, nor is there an option to use PayPal – suggesting that Facebook is looking to rival the online payments firm.

It remains to be seen how many of the social network’s users will feel comfortable handing over their debit card information to Facebook.

Aude added that the service allows only person-to-person transactions, despite previous speculation claiming that Facebook’s payments service would allow social networkers to purchase and pay for online goods, adding that there is also the option to send payments to multiple participants.

According to Aude’s findings, the service is likely to be free to use.

He said, “Based on my understanding of the debit interchange rates, each transaction will cost Facebook roughly $0.40 to $0.50 (Durbin swipe fee + ACH fee).

“The app didn’t mention a fee to send, so it’s probably free, at least initially. Over time they might add a $1 fee.”

Speculation about a Facebook payments service has been whirling around the online rumor mill for some time. This escalated in June when Facebook hired ex-president of PayPal David Marcus to take the reins of Facebook Messenger.

Facebook has yet to comment on the speculation.

This article was originally published on the Inquirer.

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