Facebook Begins Publicly Testing Payments Platform

Last Friday Techcrunch noticed an instance of Facebook’s payment platform caught in the wild. The application that payments was integrated into was the GroupCard application and integration appears pretty straight forward. As we’ve been writing over the past few weeks, payments will begin to be rolled out across a few beta applications in the near future with the final launch months down the road.

When I used Facebook’s checkout service everything appeared to run smoothly except for some of the checkout text which didn’t wrap correctly in the checkout pop-up box. I have to say that the lightbox checkout integration is pretty slick and makes checking out much easier than any of the other payment systems I use regularly. One can imagine how this service could also be easily integrated in to Facebook Connect enabled sites in the future.

So how much is this new payment platform worth to Facebook? Right now Facebook is already doing around $50 million in virtual gift sales and games on the Facebook platform are selling much more. Even if the total virtual goods economy is around $200 million currently, that would result in Facebook generating around $4 million if there were a 2 percent transaction fee. $4 million is ultimately nothing considering Facebook is forecasted to bring over $500 million in revenue this year.

The real opportunity for Facebook payments is long-term thought. If the company can generate the de facto micro-transactions payment platform then there’s a relatively significant opportunity. Still, the micro-transactions economy will have to balloon for it to become a meaningful revenue source for Facebook. Perhaps that’s why there was so much internal debate prior to the platform being released.

Regardless of the debate, it’s clear that Facebook is moving forward with their payments platform and GroupCard is the first known application to benefit from the new Facebook payments integration. Have you seen any other applications integrate with Facebook payments? Do you think payments will generate much revenue for Facebook in the long-term?