It now seems all but certain that Facebook will introduce its own payment service and bring the fight to companies like Paypal and Venmo. A TechCrunch tipster has released screenshots and video of a new payment platform that's secretly built into the current version of Facebook Messenger for iOS. With the service enabled, users can send money to other friends just like attaching a photograph to a message.
Currently, the service only appears to accept debit card payments, which come with lower processing fees than credit cards and are easier to configure than bank accounts. Speaking of fees, from the system that's been leaked, it appears that there are no fees for users to send money to each other. However, since this is an early leak of the service, it's certainly possible that these details will change before launch. More payment options may be added, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a fee ultimately added to the service: sending money isn't free.
This is not the first sign that Facebook is interested in facilitating payments. Earlier this year, in a surprising move, the company hired away Paypal president David Marcus to lead its messaging efforts. Following that hire, Mark Zuckerberg did little to hide the company's payment ambitions to investors, though he advised that an entry to the competitive industry wouldn't happen over night. "We’re going to take the time to do this in the way that is going to be right," he said. Beyond friend-to-friend payments, Facebook also has a checkout service like Amazon Payments that will store and fill in your payment information in certain apps.
There's no word of when Messenger may get updated with support for payments. Even though the code for the service appears to already be built into the app, it's possible that it's only there to facilitate limiting testing, and it may not indicate that a launch is imminent.