The only thing separating Facebook from being a true payment facilitator is it registering as one. The social media giant today announced users of its Messenger app can now send payments from within the app to make purchases from sites who interface with the app using bots.
Facebook is working with Stripe, Braintree and PayPal, but also appears to be directly enabling acceptance of Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to make this happen, and Messenger users can store their card info in Messenger for use at checkout. This can be combined with the ability of brands being able to buy ads that take clickers into Messenger where their card info is saved. David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging and a former payments executive, has raised the Messenger user base from 700 million monthly active users to 1 billion in a year.
It should be noted that Facebook is a client of PF Adyen.
Marcus said at Tech Crunch Disrupt SF that payments are just one part of a plan to let users do just about everything, using the example of booking a flight to Paris completely within the app. Another example was a brand of liquor pushing a free drink code to users within the app; the code would then be shown to a bartender for redemption.
“When you look at all these entities that you interact with, it’s bringing it all together,” Marcus said. “Engagement as measured by daily sends inside Messenger has grown tremendously in the last couple years. We want to accelerate that trend and make messenger a more central part of the daily lives of our billion-plus users.”
Facebook hired Marcus, former president of PayPal, as head of Facebook Messenger, possibly signaling the inclusion of payments in their offering. But, many tech companies including Facebook have dabbled in payments for years, so the move could have been just a decision by a well-respected tech executive to take a prestigious role in one of the most esteemed companies in Silicon Valley.
With today’s news, that’s clearly not the case. Almost two months ago, Facebook announced an offering to non-profits with a Donate Now button, making Facebook the de facto payment facilitator, charging 5%. While they’re not a registered PF, industry veteran Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group and publisher of Paymentfacilitator.com, says, “Marcus’s impact is driving Facebook to a more active role in payments. Two datapoints determines a trend and with this news, we now can see that Facebook is up to their ears competing as a payment facilitator. The only question is, ‘What is next.’”