Facebook PR tends to be coy about the company’s “Pay With Facebook” plans to become the virtual wallet for its 250 million monthly users.
That’s smart, because there are plenty of sceptics who think the whole thing could be a bust.
But Facebook engineers aren’t always so modest. Take Ivan Kirigin, who joined Facebook on Monday. Previously, he’d been the cofounder of a micro-payments startup called TipJoy.
In an August 20 post to announce that startup’s closing, Ivan predicted big things for a Facebook-owned payments platform:
When we evaluate why there’s been so much hype about payments on Twitter, and yet so little traction for us (and even far less for our competitors) it is clear to us that the reason is that a 3rd party payment service doesn’t add enough value. We strongly believe that social payments will work on a social network, provided that they’re done within the platform and not as a 3rd party. The only way to get around this is for the platforms themselves to control payments–then all people wanting to operate on that platform would have to play along. We believe that a payments system directly and officially integrated into social networks such as Twitter and Facebook will be a huge success.
Ivan isn’t the only one at Facebook with high expectations for “Pay With Facebook.” In June, Facebook hired Prashant Fuloria, the guy who used to run Google’s payments product, Google Checkout.
Earlier this week, we reported that there is a group of executives at Facebook who believe payments revenues will eventually outstrip Facebook’s advertising revenues. We believe Facebook ads revenuese will near $475 million in 2009.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who has learned a lot of restraint since launching Facebook Beacon with too much hype in Fall 2007 — still sometimes lets slip his own enthusiasm for a Facebook payments platform.
In June, Mark told Inside Facebook’s Justin Smith:
I think it has the potential to be really important. Its potential correlates with how valuable it is to developers and users. There’s a bunch of things that we test as a company, and we basically choose what to invest in based on what people are doing. I don’t really have anything new to add to the information that you already have on this.
But based on how our tests go, we may choose to do a lot more. We’re pretty optimistic [about the potential performance of the payments service], but we don’t really have a sense of how big it will be yet either. I do think it is one interesting area.
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