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Make Payments With Facebook Messenger

Don’t Shut Up, But Do Take My Money

In our daily dose of news to worry the Facebook Messenger conspiracy theorists, screenshots have been uncovered that show a future update that will allow us to send and receive money through the service. The screenshots, leaked by a Stanford hacker who attained them when poking around Messenger with iOS developer tool Cycript, suggest that the service is already good to go and will be functional the second FBHQ flip the switch. The update looks incredibly easy to use, and seems like it will make sharing money online easier than ever.
While I enjoy mocking Facebook's mobile disasters as much as the next online blogger, this actually seems like a really good idea. As someone all too used to online banking (Lloyds TSB, representin’), constantly having to fill in a recipient’s details every time I want to send a few quid to someone new gets very boring, very quickly. Even worse, my bank makes me receive a phone call from a robot to confirm it's me making the payment. Every. Single. Time.

Messenger payments should make the process of sharing money faster, smoother and more practical. Once you've provided your bank details (it even looks like we’ll be able to have more than one card on there at a time), money can be transferred efficiently through Messenger – it's as simple as sharing a photograph. According to a few lines of the leaked code, only one person at a time can be given money to begin with. Eventually, though, we'll be able to make group payments as well.

This isn't completely out the blue, as Mark Zuckerberg once stated in a Q2 earnings call that online payments and Facebook Messenger may eventually overlap. However, he was keen to remind investors that this process will be a slow, gradual one instead of an all out arms race to try and take over PayPal, Venmo et al. This also explains why Facebook appointed the previous president of PayPal, David Marcus, as the head of Messenger.

One big question about the reveal is how much this service will cost – and whether we’ll be charged for using it at all. One would be forgiven for assuming this will all be free, as Messenger has received enough bad press in the past to warrant a freebie. What's more, money-sharing apps are a dime a dozen. My own bank has recently released their own method of transferring money to contacts with a mobile number, and others already have similar architecture in place - most of which is free to use.

In this unpaid blogger's opinion, hiding the update behind a paywall will be sending it out to die. While the convenience of being able to send money through Messenger will be an incredibly useful feature, it won’t justify any additional cost compared to online banking or alternative apps. If it is free, however, then count me in. Glory to our Facebook overlords. 

Here's a leaked video of it in action. 

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Facebook Messenger Payments feature demoed by @andyplace2 for TechCrunch


Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Make Payments With Facebook Messenger Reviewed by Emile Cole on Thursday, October 09, 2014 Rating: 5
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