We all have that one friend who conveniently forgets to pay after a night out on the town. Now, it looks like Facebook wants to make it easier to get them to pay up.
Developer Andrew Aude tweeted screenshots of an unreleased mobile payments system baked into the Facebook Messenger app that will allow users to send money to one another in the context of a conversation that they’re having. It’s yet another in a long line of mobile payment products that have cropped up on mobile platforms like Venmo and Square Cash which are designed to make it possible for friends to share money without carrying cash.
Judging from the screenshots, it looks like users will be able to connect their debit cards with the app, and then share money through a conversation. The news comes after PayPal head David Marcus joined Facebook in June to take charge of – you guessed it – Messenger.
It’s clear why Facebook would want to get in on the mobile payment market: it has the chance to be a big business for the social networking company. Lots of people have a Facebook account, and this feature would allow them to exchange money without installing another app on their phone. If Facebook is able to take a cut of the transactions, it could create a nice revenue stream.
In addition, it could create a swath of Facebook users who have their payment data linked to the social networking service, which would be a valuable tool going forward.
Of course, it’s anyone’s guess how well this will go over with users. Facebook’s decision to force people to use Messenger if they want to chat on their mobile device has drawn the ire of its users, and the app has been wracked by bad publicity over the number of permissions it requests in order to power all its features including photo sharing and voice calling. After all that, people may not be so keen on handing over their debit card info.