Facebook is launching a new payments service on Messenger, allowing friends to send money to one another in a convenient way without any fees.
The social network has been working on the payments service for around a year, picking up some talent from PayPal and Square. It is said to be built from the ground up and does not use any third-party payments platform.
Users will be able to set-up a VISA or Mastercard debit card for the transaction, no credit cards are supported at the time due to fees. Once set-up, Facebook will give users the option of Touch ID or a passcode on iOS, but this can be switched off in the settings.
Facebook is using special encryption to prevent fraud on the system and will be able to monitor payments separately to most of the other traffic from its Messenger app.
It is a new method of convenience for users that do not enjoy sending money to friends through PayPal or bank accounts. Snapchat also launched a payments feature a few months back using Square’s payment technology.
Facebook Messenger has over 500 million active monthly users, bolstered by the separation of the messaging service from the original app. Most users are on mobile, which is good for the new payments feature.
The feature does present a few questions on the future of Facebook Messenger and the social network’s lack of confidence in WhatsApp to take over the messaging experience.
Considering WhatsApp has 750 million active monthly users and a much stronger user-base, it would seem smart for Facebook to ditch its own messaging service and work to make WhatsApp even better.
Facebook has been keen to explore multiple options before, it still offers its own Photos app even though Instagram has become the number one place for photos.
Hopefully WhatsApp gets this feature soon as well, alongside the VoIP feature it recently added to the service. This will help it compete with Tencent’s WeChat and Naver’s LINE, both offering huge amounts of weird features.