In my recent predictions for Facebook in 2018, I noted that in order for Messenger to be able to transition into the all-encompassing eCommerce/personal assistant tool Zuck and Co. envisage, one key area they need to work on is in-stream payments.
Facebook's made no secret of the fact that they’re looking to emulate the success of China’s WeChat in mapping out Messenger’s projected evolution. In China, WeChat is used for everything, from banking to paying bills to shopping, all largely facilitated with its simplified, in-app payment process.
Facebook's been working to provide similar capacity – they announced peer-to-peer payments via PayPal just last month, and have been testing regional payment options as they advance their systems. And now, we have the next step, with peer-to-peer payments being made available in France and The UK.
US Messenger users have been able to exchange peer-to-peer payments since 2015 (ahead of the recent PayPal integration), but this is the first time the option has been expanded to new regions. Facebook says that “p2p payments in Messenger have been widely used to make life more seamless” amongst US users, and the feature has been among the most requested in other regions.
The process, as you can see from the video, is fairly straight-forward:
- Start a message with a friend
- Tap the blue + icon and then tap the green Payments icon
- Set up your payment account (only the first time) and then enter the amount you want to send
- Tap Pay and then add your debit card
- Watch the amount of money you sent rain down on the screen
All your debit card credentials are encrypted and protected with ‘bank level security’, with transactions monitored by ‘world-class anti-fraud specialists’, adding extra assurance to the process.
And while the option is geared towards friend-to-friend sharing, the process will also facilitate easier payments for Marketplace transactions.
Marketplace has proven to be a popular option, with up to 18 million new listings being added to Marketplace each month in the US alone, and searches within the tool increasing 3X since the beginning of 2017. Adding p2p payments will make it easier to process Marketplace deals, which could help Facebook better utilize the option to build on the platform’s wider eCommerce potential.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also rolling out M suggestions for payments in the UK and France.
M Suggestions has been available in the UK since August, but it’s the first time the tool has been expanded to French users. M Suggestions for payments provides automated prompts when it detects language that suggests you may want to exchange money within a Messenger thread.
While Messenger business hasn’t taken off the way Facebook would like, there’s still plenty of time, and plenty of opportunity in the app, and its various bot and eCommerce options could still catch on. It just takes a few great experiences, a few transformative processes that make it a must-use tool, one that people want to tell their friends about.
With streamlined payment options, Facebook’s taking big steps towards making this happen – it may still seem somewhat beyond the realm of logic to be shopping and conducting business transactions via message. But new developments are bringing it ever closer to reality.