A forthcoming software release will allow people with a Facebook Messenger account to pay for goods “in person” or “pay directly in Messenger when you pick up the item” without the need for cash, according to commands found in code for the current version of Messenger.
It seems like the service will piggyback on other similar services like Apple Pay or Android Pay instead of going head-to head with them. Mark Zuckerberg said in January that Facebook would “partner with everyone who does payments… We look at the stuff that Apple is doing with Apple Pay, for example, as a really neat innovation in the space that takes a lot of friction out of transactions as well,” he said during a conference call with investors.
Zuckerberg also said that Facebook wasn’t planning to make money by taking a cut from transactions made through Messenger, but rather use the boost in e-commerce to enhance its advertising business.
Also within the Messenger code were commands for users to tap “suggested businesses,” which could mean Facebook will look at people’s “likes” and behaviour online to direct them towards relevant businesses on Messenger.
Down the line, a feature like this could end up competing with Google’s own search business, with companies paying Facebook to help boost their visibility on Messenger, just as they can already pay for search ads on Google.