FACEBOOK IS DETERMINED to mess around with money and payments; if not with its role in the Libra cryptocurrency, then with the rollout of Facebook Pay to Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Previously trialled in India, Facebook Pay allows folks to add their debit or credit card to the payment service and then use it to pay for stuff in Facebook's aforementioned messaging services and picture-posting apps, as well as its main social network.
At least it will do at some point, as while Facebook Pay is launching in the US this week, it'll only support payments in Messenger and the main Facebook platform. WhatsApp and Instagram support its expected "over time" but no firmed up roll out date was given.
For those of you worried about how Facebook will manage those payments, Deborah Liu, vice president of Facebook's marketplace and commerce division, has words that could put you at ease.
"Facebook Pay supports most major credit and debit cards as well as PayPal. Payments are processed in partnership with companies like PayPal, Stripe and others around the world. Facebook Pay is built on existing financial infrastructure and partnerships, and is separate from the Calibra wallet which will run on the Libra network," said Liu.
Furthermore, not only will FaceBook Pay allow you to spend your dosh on stuff you spot on the social network's various platforms, but you can also use it to send money to friends and donate to fundraisers.
That all sounds well and good. But there are plenty of other payment services that facilitate such in-app payments, including Google Pay and Apple Pay. This could mean Facebook is sticking its beak into an already well-serviced area.
And then there are issues of trust. Facebook ain't exactly flush with that at the moment, following the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal last year and other privacy foibles.
As such, some folks might not be comfortable with Facebook potentially having a record of what you've spunked your money on, and whether that data gets passed on to marketers and advertisers. There was no mention by Liu on what Facebook would do with such information, though she did promise that it would keep payment details encrypted and won't touch biometric data.
Time will tell on this one, and it will be interesting to see if Facebook Pay takes off given Facebook isn't exactly having a lot of joy with its Libra cryptocurrency. µ
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