Some would say that Facebook is like the Wal-Mart of the Internet. Already offering games, photo storage, media streaming, and RSS feeds with almost every other social media site out there for years, it appears that now they want to get their foot in the door with something new–online banking. In the coming months, Facebook will launch a new app within the Messenger app that will make it akin to the social media equivalent of Moneygram. The 500 million users of Facebook Messenger will soon have the privilege of using said app to send money to one another.
The app works by having the user link their debit or credit card (Visa or Mastercard only) to their messenger account. With the simple click of a dollar symbol in the chatbox, they then proceed to place the desired amount of money they plan to send before sending it to whomever it is they happen to be speaking to. The service will also come free of charge.
There has already been speculation of Facebook trying out a social Moneygram service of sorts for quite some time now, with screenshots of a test run for the Messenger app surfacing several months ago that, alleged to have shown a demo of this new service in practice. Another thing of note is that David Marcus, former CEO of the original online money service, PayPal, came on as vice president of Facebook messaging products during summer 2014. Facebook has already offered monetized services for years as well, most of them involving other applications. There has even been to option to send a friend a gift card from Starbucks on their birthday for quite some time now. This will however, be the first time that users are able to send money among one another.
While new to Facebook, they are already in good company. Mobile-payments service, Square, has already offered users the ability to send money to one another for quite some time now. In November 2014, Snapchat launched a companion app, dubbed Snapcash, which also allowed users to send money to anyone else who makes use of the app, though these payments are processed with Square as well. Also of note is a steadily growing money transfer site named Venmo. Launched in 2013, it found quick success with demographics like college students and twenty-somethings.
According to Facebook product manager, Steve Davis, “We realized that there were all these conversations that were forced to go somewhere else in order to actually finish,” establishing that the main goal that Facebook is striving for with this feature is convenience. They do not want their users to be forced to use another platform for the service that they already spoke of in a Facebook message. They are also implementing strong security software immediately upon launch, likely to avoid the numerous account breaches that Venmo has suffered from in the past.
As their first attempt at peer-to-peer fund sharing, many industry analysts have already predicted that the impact will be huge. Representatives for the social networking giant have claimed they already make millions on a daily basis just for game and app transactions, so Facebook Messenger will only need a fraction of the 500 million users to become a social media version of Moneygram.
By Philip Cunningham