PayPal, Venmo, Square, and even Clinkle might have a new competitor on the horizon: Facebook Messenger.
According to hacked screenshots by Stanford computer science student Andrew Aude (via TechCrunch’s Josh Constine), payments would send the same way you can now send a photo. You’ll be able to add a debit card to Messenger, use one that’s already on file with Facebook, and add a PIN for extra security.
This isn’t the first time signs pointing to upcoming payments has been found in messenger, TechCrunch reports. Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski found code that said as much last month.
Aude told TechCrunch how the payments work (at least so far):
Aude played around the with feature and its code. He tells me you simply hit a button to initiate a payment, enter the amount you want to send, and send it. Facebook keeps the transaction private and doesn’t publish anything about it to the News Feed.
In the version Aude investigated, Messenger payments only worked with debit cards, not credit cards or bank accounts. That’s likely because money transfers are cheaper to process when they come from debit cards and don’t require approvals or numbers some people don’t know off-hand like connecting a bank account. Aude speculates that “based on my understanding of the debit interchange rates, each transaction will cost roughly $US0.40 to $US0.50 (Durbin swipe fee + ACH fee). The app didn’t mention a fee to end, so it’s probably free, at least initially. Over time they might add a $US1 fee.” This can’t be confirmed, though.
In June, president of PayPal David Marcus stepped down to join Facebook. People speculated that it could be because mobile payments could soon be coming to Messenger. Neither Messenger nor WhatsApp, the messaging app Facebook bought in February, allow payments. But other huge messaging apps, such as WeChat and Line, do.
“Mark shared a compelling vision about Mobile Messaging,” Marcus wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “At first, I didn’t know whether another big company gig was a good thing for me, but Mark’s enthusiasm, and the unparalleled reach and consumer engagement of the Facebook platform ultimately won me over. So … yes. I’m excited to go to Facebook to lead Messaging Products. And I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty again attempting to build something new and meaningful at scale.”