Social networking giant Facebook announced this week that it will add a new feature to its messaging app that will enable users to send and receive money via the platform.
People who add their Visa or MasterCard debit card information to Facebook Messenger can make payments to their “friends” in a simple way.
One just needs to strike up a conversation, select a “$” icon that appears in the message box, key in the amount and press “pay” for the cash transfer to go through.
All that the friend — the counterparty– has to do is open his message box and click to accept the payment.
Facebook users can only add their debit card information for now, an arrangement aimed at minimizing fraud and avoiding fees.
This payment feature will first roll out in the United States before it is taken to other places in the world.
Though Facebook doesn’t plan to charge any fee for the time being, it can gain a lot if the payment function becomes popular.
For one, user stickiness to the social network site may increase.
Through the access to users’ debit card and payment information, Facebook can make use of valuable data to offer more targeted advertising services. Considering Facebook Messenger’s huge user base of 700 million accounts, the revenue potential should be promising.
But compared with the real-time settlement of Tencent’s Weixin Payment, Facebook’s payment function takes longer to complete the transaction — up to three business days.
David Marcus, the vice president of Facebook’s Messenger division admitted that his idea came from Tencent’s online payment and taxi-hailing services.
Social platforms’ expansion into payment platforms has become a trend.
Martin Lau Chi-ping, president of Tencent, said he is optimistic about the debit card bundle business.
Lau revealed that “red packet activity”, a feature that lets users based in China to gift money to friends and family, has prompted many users to bundle their debit cards and credit cards to their Weixin accounts.
Weixin Payment has more than 100 million users at the moment, and there is still plenty of room to grow.
Medical service could become one of the most important applications. Users can use the Weixin Payment to make appointments with doctors and pay consultation fees afterwards.
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