It has long been rumored that Facebook would add a payments system permitting those on its network to transfer money between one another, and today, said feature has been announced. Although not ready to roll out just yet, users of Facebook’s Messenger app will soon be able to send money to other users, and notably, it’s completely free of charge.
In a nutshell, it’s a very simple system that will allow the effortless movement of money between peers tethered to the Facebook network. When a user sends a payment to another user, the money is held by Facebook for a couple of seconds before being pushed through to the recipient’s bank, and if one is sent money without having linked it up to their bank / card, it is held securely until a card is added.
With folks sending money to each other on a regular basis via mobile-based systems, Facebook is lighting the blue touchpaper to a number of rivaling efforts, including the banks themselves. Should this Messenger-based system take off, Facebook will have a large portion of accounts linked to bank details, which adds significant value-per-user, and given how many people use the Messenger app, there’s a good chance that the peer-to-peer payments system could garner quite a following.
Within the Messenger app, there will be a small “$” sign used to initiate payments, located just above the keyboard. The sender then types in the amount, and the payee receives the sum with minimal fuss, and while there will naturally be one or two concerns about security, Facebook has this based covered as well.
With the PIN-based system in place (Touch ID for iPhone-based users), no payment can be sent without the credentials being entered, so if somebody happened to have access to your device, they wouldn’t be able too use it to send money without your permission.
As well as making the transfer of funds between users very easy and rendering Messenger a more valuable asset in general, Facebook is also well-placed for a more concerted push into the world of commerce, something that Mark Zuckerberg has made no secret of in the past.
The roll-out of payments in Messenger will begin in the United States before expanding to other markets, supporting iOS and Android to begin with.