Meta’s looking to give its eCommerce ambitions another push, with the launch of payments between users and businesses within Messenger chat, providing another way to facilitate transactions in its apps.
As you can see in this example, the new process will enable businesses to request payment within a message thread, with users then able to transfer funds, right then and there, streamlining purchase.
As explained by Meta:
“For example, if you’re interested in a backpack, all you have to do is send a message to the business about the one you love. From there, you can chat about customizations - like adding your initials - and then place your order right in the chat. In that same chat thread, you’ll also be able to track your order and ask the business any follow-up questions.”
Users will be able to use Meta Pay (the payment system formerly known as ‘Facebook Pay’) to complete their purchase, with businesses then able to maintain connection on updates and details as the order is processed.
It’s essentially the same as payment transfers between friends, which have been available in Messenger since 2017. Now, businesses will also be able to tap into that same capacity – which seems like a small, even logical conclusion for Meta’s process, though it may be a much bigger deal than it likely seems.
Meta has been trying to integrate in-stream shopping, in various ways, for years, via experiments with buy buttons, live-stream payments, its own cryptocurrency, and more. All of those have faced various levels of pushback, and/or low consumer take-up - but with billions of people exchanging messages with brands in its apps every week, Meta sees big opportunity, if it can get its payment options right.
Which is why this is such a significant new test. Yes, it’s the same as payment transfers between connections, and functionally, it’s not a major technological advance (brands using Instagram Shops can already facilitate payments). But enabling more merchants to more easily drive payments direct from Instagram is a big step in encouraging them to expand their reliance on the app to build their business.
Meta’s also working on similar payment options within WhatsApp, which could open up more in-stream commerce opportunities in emerging markets, while it’s also developing a new ’wallet for the metaverse’ which will provide a more integrated way to securely manage your digital identity and purchases in future.
If Meta can get these elements right, that could make it much easier to go from inspiration to purchase within its apps, essentially converting its visual feeds into a virtual shopping mall, which could be a big winner for a wide-range of SMBs.
There are still regulatory challenges in some regions, and other functional issues for Meta to overcome. But the more trust it can build in its payment systems, through the gradual integration of processes like this, the more it advances towards that next stage.
Payments via message is now available to US-based SMBs who don’t currently use Instagram Shops.