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Facebook Messenger will now let you send money to friends

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The company joins Snapchat, Square Cash, and Venmo in the booming peer-to-peer payment market

We reported on rumors that Facebook was going to add payments to its messaging services back in October of 2014. Today the company made it official, introducing a new feature to Facebook Messenger that lets users send and receive money at no cost. Users just hit a small "$" icon that now appears in Messenger and type in the amount they want to transfer. Facebook says the money is sent right away, although it may take one to three days to show up in your bank.

The company, understandably, put a lot of emphasis on the security it built into this system. "We use secure systems that encrypt the connection between you and Facebook as well as your card information when you ask us to store it for you." Users can add a PIN code or Touch ID for an extra layer of protection.

The company is also building out new teams for in-house security. "These payment systems are kept in a secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network and that receive additional monitoring and control. A team of anti-fraud specialists monitor for suspicious purchase activity to help keep accounts safe.

Facebook says the first time you use payments, you'll need to add a Mastercard or Visa debit card issued by a US bank. It's not clear yet when the option for credit cards will be added, or when the service will expand internationally. Facebook says for now its avoiding credit cards to cut down on fraud and fees.The service will be coming to iOS, Android, and desktop in the US over the coming months.

Will this become a big business for Facebook? So far that is not the company's plan. "We’re not trying to make a profit out of payments," Facebook product manager Steve Davis told Re/Code. for now, it's just a useful feature in one of the company's most popular products.