The Facebook Messenger app on iOS and Android is getting a payments system, allowing users to transfer money to friends on the network (or indeed receive funds).
The new system is rolling out across the US from now, and will see the introduction of a small ‘$’ symbol icon above the keyboard – tapping that will bring users to the payment transfer screen where they can specify the amount to be given away.
It will, of course, mean that the user will have to enter debit card details to their Facebook account, although the social network isn’t actually charging a fee for the payment service (Facebook’s monetisation campaign is focused on the advertising side of its business, of course).
The move brings with it obvious security concerns, and Facebook has naturally enough included security options – users can instigate a PIN for validation, or use the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone if they’re an Apple smartphone user.
Facebook product manager Steve Davis also told re/code, which broke the news, that the money is only held by Facebook for mere “seconds” before being transferred to the recipient’s bank account.
Davis also noted, “We’re not trying to make a profit out of payments,” rather he explained that Facebook spotted users were leaving chats to conclude payments on other services, so they figured why not integrate the system.
Snapchat also recently launched its Snapcash payment service at the end of last year, which again is a very snappy and simple to use transfer system, although in this case powered by Square.
While Facebook’s payment service will be US-only for the time being, international expansion is planned in the future.