Facebook understands that they probably weren’t going to win the mobile payments space by directly competing with Apple Pay or any of the other major names in the mobile payments landscape. A standalone service simply wouldn’t get the job done in this instance, and right now, Facebook has a plethora of users available to take advantage of a mobile payments system through an app that already exists.
That’s why Facebook is introducing an updated version of their Messenger app, which will feature the ability to pay friends directly in conversations. The option will sit directly next to the chat, photo, and sticker options – and will be linked to a debit card. While this isn’t going to be something that will compete directly with Apple Pay, or any of the other names in that space – it is doing something that will have its function, and it’s users, too.
With it being clear that Facebook’s payment system isn’t going to be confused for Apple Pay anytime soon, there are quite a few positives to this type of the mobile payment system. The biggest is that it’s really similar to some money transfer programs that already exist out there. Think about a basic version of PayPal, where money can be quickly, and easily transferred – though some transfers can take up to 3 business days.
It can be done simply among friends, without having to enter different information, or getting any real personal information. The user will simply have to commit to giving their debit card information to Facebook – which is either a pro or con, depending on where you feel Facebook’s security stands. It’ll give users the ability to link a debit card to their profile, which as Facebook expands their function – which they undoubtedly will – that function will only increase.
Looking at it from the other perspective though, users definitely have some justified reservations about this type of program. First off, it’s embedded in Facebook Messenger, which begs questions about how easily money can be transferred and if that process is too easy and could somehow be triggered by accident. Another serious reservation users will likely have with this program figuring out what Facebook is, or isn’t, doing with your debit card information.
Facebook has been working on this technology for a while though, so it’s probably safer to assume than many would expect that their information would be safe – at least from criminals. Facebook might also have to begin looking at the fact that right now, the company will only be introducing debit cards to the fold, and excluding credit cards – which might turn a lot of users off given the fact that insurance on bad charges, or thefts are typically tougher to safeguard on a debit card – versus a credit card.
Right now, the updated version of the Messenger app is rolling out slowly to Android and iOS users, but ultimately will be available on both in the coming weeks.