Facebook Messenger has come under criticism in recent days for its privacy violations (according to some users), but there may be a new reason to prefer it over other social media text messaging apps: Facebook Messenger allows friend-to-friend mobile payments.
The hidden feature was discovered initially by iOS security expert Jonathan Zdziarski, who posted his own screenshot of Facebook Messenger’s program code. The code shows the phrase “FBPaymentsCreditCardtypefromnumber,” a testimony to the program embedded within Facebook Messenger.
Recently, however, Andrew Aude, a Stanford computer science student, gathered more details about Facebook Messenger’s mobile payments setup and made an announcement at Twitter on Friday: “@Facebook Messenger has P2P payments coming. @SquareCash style.”
Aude discovered the feature by jailbreaking his iPhone using the software program known as Cycrypt. The feature doesn’t come activated with Facebook Messenger on iPhones that are still locked into iOS, however, but it can be turned on once your iPhone is jailbroken – as can a number of features within apps.
Aude says that you can only use debit cards, not credit cards at the moment, despite the embedded message within the Facebook Messenger code. It seems that the program itself is in its initial stages and that Facebook will indeed allow credit cards to be used on the system once it perfects the payments system for users. Since the code says “credit cards,” it’s unlikely that Facebook will bypass credit card users with the new payment system.
The Facebook Messenger payment system is as easy as choosing the contact you want to send money to, typing in the amount, and then press “send.” It seems similar to what Google’s provided in its Gmail money-sending feature, the exception being that payment-sending capabilities don’t yet exist in Google+, nor does Google seem content on allowing money-sending capabilities through anything other than Gmail or Google Wallet. Perhaps it’s the case that, should Google decide to create its own text messaging app, we may see money-sending software integration. Apart from Google, PayPal should also worry about the upcoming feature.
In addition to how the mobile payments feature works, it’s only P2P (person-to-person) at the moment, so be sure to drop the group payments idea that’s probably in the back of your mind. Facebook may increase this, as well as card methods and so on – but you shouldn’t expect these features to roll out to the hidden Facebook Messenger feature anytime soon.