Facebook is looking to move into mobile payments sooner rather than later. Not content with its better-than-expected growth in mobile advertising, the social network may be planning to allow users to exchange money using its Messenger app.
Messenger could allow users to exchange cash much like they would transfer a photo, according to Andrew Aude. The Stanford student found code within the iOS version of the app that allows users to add payment cards (only debit for now) and PIN codes to send money. Facebook made 92 percent of its revenue in the last quarter from ads, and mobile payments could be a way for the company to diversify its sales.
Facebook did not comment on Aude’s findings, nor has it provided a timeline for the feature to be activated. Facebook hired PayPal CEO David Marcus last month to manage its messaging team, alluding to payment’s role in Messenger, and likely WhatsApp. Facebook will pay $22 billion for WhatsApp in a deal that allows the company to acquire users — over 600 million daily as of August.
Aude said that while PayPal was mentioned in the code, an option to send money through the service was not yet available.
The code as it exists presently would let Facebook users send payments only to one another, but could eventually add the ability to break up payments: multiple users paying a friend back for footing a restaurant bill, for example. Cisco conducted a 2012 survey where 30 percent of respondents said they might use Facebook as a banking service one day. However, 55 percent said they were “extremely uncomfortable” using Facebook – and that was prior to a number of controversies over user data.