When the Facebook Messenger feature was launched launched by Facebook on the 17th of March, for just a few experimental cities like New York, I felt it was high time we got something like this from Facebook. As a Nigerian, you would understand the frustration of using an online payment service like PayPal.
But to be clear, the Facebook Messenger payment service is sort of different from how PayPal works. For now, you can only transfer money to your friends via the Facebook Messenger app on your smartphone. But it is expected, hopefully, that with time Facebook is going to make it as big as any other online payment platform you can think of.
At the end of June, barely three months after the launch of the payment feature, the good news came out from Facebook that it is now extending the Facebook Messenger payment service to all cities in the US. Gradually the service is growing. And now that you don’t need to have a Facebook account to use Facebook Messenger, you can be sure many people are going to sign up.
Using the Facebook Messenger payment service is really easy. Once you have Facebook Messenger on your phone, you are good to go. No need download another app. If your Messenger app is activated for the service, you’ll see a dollar sign in the app. For first time users you need to connect your MasterCard or Visa debit card to the app. Then tap the $ icon and enter the amount you want to send and finally tap ‘Pay’ at the top right.
To receive the money, just open up the chat box from your friend. Tap ‘Add Card’ in the message and also add your debit card details to accept the money for the first time. Next time you won’t have to add your debit card details again to receive or send money to a friend.The money gets send directly to your bank account or deducted from your bank account depending on if you are the recipient or sender respectively. And all these is free of charge.
The free of charge aspect is where the Facebook Messenger payment service is going to be a real problem for the established players like PayPal and Venmo who charge a fee for their services. And remember Facebook just announced recently that Facebook Messenger app now has over 700 million users. So that is a potential 700 million users headache for the likes of PayPal.
In fact, to show how seriously PayPal takes this new venture, it came out with a press release a day after the Facebook Messenger payment service was announced. Part of the statement read,
‘We have had a great relationship with Facebook since 2008 and currently work closely together to provide easy payments on a global scale for its games and ads business. PayPal has always taken a partnership approach to payments and we will continue to work with Facebook and many other companies on new payments experiences that make it easier for people to send and receive money on both the PayPal and Braintree platforms.’
I think companies like PayPal understand very well that they are about to lose a large chunk of their revenue when the Facebook Messenger payment service goes global. Most payments of facebook ads and games are carried out through PayPal. Facebook wants that money for itself. Without having to pay any commission to a third party company. Even Google introduced Google Pay recentlyi to its Android OS, because it also recognized that the mobile payment platform is big business today
I’ll be rooting for Facebook to get it right and extend the services of the Facebook Messenger payment to Nigeria. I just hope they won’t come up with some spurious excuse to exclude Nigeria from it.