Facebook Messenger is growing at a considerable rate, up 100 million users in three months to 700 million worldwide.
To keep the momentum growing and potentially capture users not willing to open a Facebook account, the social giant has made it possible to sign up for Messenger without having an active Facebook account.
Instead of signing in via Facebook, users can now use a mobile number to sign-up. In the set-up process, it will ask for a photo and name to complete the profile.
This makes Messenger a lighter service that does not require users to be on the social network. It might also have an adverse effect, moving users away from the social network to have less data for advertisers.
Facebook Messenger does not collect as much data as the social network, so for users worried about privacy and advertising information, it might be a good option to remove a Facebook account if Messenger is the only useful app.
For now, the mobile setup will only be available to users in the US, Canada, Peru and Venezuela. Facebook is planning to add more countries as soon as possible, hopefully Europe will receive this feature, instead of blanket banning the continent for EU regulations, like it did with Moments.
Facebook has big plans for Messenger, already announcing a payments service inside the messaging app and video calls. Messenger Platform could also be a large source of income for Facebook, if it manages to win over developers to create over-the-top experiences inside Messenger.
That said, Messenger is currently not the breadwinner for Facebook. It lacks major advertising initiatives and the social network has been careful to keep users happy on the messaging platform, by making it a much smoother experience.