Facebook recently announced a new peer-to-peer (P2P) system that will operate on Facebook Messenger. In order to send or receive funds, users will have to load their debit card numbers onto the system. The company states that it is excited about this new service and that consumers should have confidence that the social site can function as a competent payment processor due to its extensive experience as a payment processor for gamers and advertisers since 2007.
Facebook sent out a few statements assuring the public that security is its top priority. Spokesmen for the company state that it will encrypt consumer information as it travels between users. Facebook also claims that the payment system portion of the social site will be housed in a secure environment separate from normal social network related systems.
Facebook Messenger is managed by the former head of PayPal, David Marcus, who joined the Facebook team in 2014. Once Marcus joined the team, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that he wanted the Messenger app to extend far beyond performing simple payment functions. He hopes that Messenger will become a significant partner to the payments industry, as opposed to a competitor.
Despite Zuckerberg’s claims that the Messenger app will not compete with the payment industry, other apps are continually blurring the lines between social media and payments. For example, PayPal’s Venmo is a P2P service that is integrated into a social feed that looks more like Twitter than a banking app. Square Cash, Square’s P2P service, has been combined with Snapchat. So even if Facebook Messenger doesn’t want to compete with dedicated payments processors, then other social media sites appear to be testing the waters.
Facebook’s Messenger app will use PIN authentication and Apple’s Touch ID to protect user account information. Facebook plans to roll out the new functionality in the coming months.
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