Will users of Facebook’s Messenger applications feel comfortable enough to send sawbucks via the apps, instead of stickers? TechCrunch shared screenshots captured by Andrew Aude, a computer-science student at Stanford University, confirming the existence of coding within the iOS version of the app that would enable payment processing.
Not coincidentally, PayPal president David Marcus joined Facebook in June to lead its mobile messaging efforts.
Aude told TechCrunch sending payments via Messenger would roughly mirror the process of sending photos via the app, with users clicking a button, adding an amount, and sending it, adding that the transactions would be kept private and not shared on News Feed.
According to Aude, users would be able to add debit cards to Messenger — not credit cards — or use debit cards that were already added to Facebook, and an in-app PIN code was added for security purposes. He told TechCrunch that while there were notes about PayPal in the code, there was no evidence of PayPal support.
It was unclear if Facebook planned to charge for payments via Messenger, or how much it would change, but Aude told TechCrunch he estimated that each transaction would cost Facebook $0.40 to $0.50, so fees were likely.
He also told TechCrunch a note in the code mentioned the eventual addition of group payments:
In the short term, we will only support single payment attachment. Multiple payment attachments will be supported in the future.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted at the potential addition of payments to Messenger during the company’s second-quarter earnings call in July, saying in response to a question from JPMorgan analyst Douglas Anmuth:
We will clearly do work in payments, to accept payments for advertising and on platform and other things that we do. But just because we will do that, it doesn’t — we still basically view ourselves as a partner to other companies in the payment space, rather than trying to compete directly for that. Our main business is advertising, and I think we’re mostly, to the extent that we do payments, it’s going to be supportive to that. I wanted to make one more point, just related to that because I think some of the questions around payments are connected to what we’re planning on doing in the other applications outside of Facebook. So things like Messenger and WhatsApp over time, when that closes, and Instagram, I really do just want to emphasize that there is a lot of work to set up the foundation for having a good business community and ecosystem, and in those, we think it’s going to be years of work before those are huge businesses for us. And I’m liking where we are now on something like Messenger, to where we were on Facebook in like 2006 or 2007, where it was primarily consumer product at that time, and where you really only communicated with friends.
Readers: Would you be comfortable sending and receiving payments via Messenger?
Screenshots courtesy of Andrew Aude.