via Facebook

Facebook has enabled group payments on its Messenger platform, the social network said in a blog post Tuesday. Users can now send and receive money between chat groups using the Messenger app on desktop and Android phones. Currently, Messenger payments only work in the US.

Users will have to connect their debt cards to Messenger the first time they make or receive a payment. Card details are saved on Messenger. The company claims it uses encrypted systems to save user and card details. Users also have the option of adding a password for future transactions. Facebook claims, the new feature will help people when everyone in the group is splitting a bill or pitching in to fund or buy something.

Payments and Facebook

Facebook brought in David A Marcus, the former vice president of PayPal, to lead its messaging services in 2014. A year later, in March 2015, Messenger began peer-to-peer payments. Marcus has clarified in an interview to Recode that Facebook will not take cuts for payments and will instead focus on advertising to monetise. “Advertising is great. It’s a fantastic business. You [still] need to enable payments and all that kind of stuff to remove friction from the experience when someone wants to buy something. If you do that, then the value of that conversation for the business increases,” he was quoted.

Platforms and payments

Forays by social networks in the payment space has mostly been damp squibs, with the exceptions of Apple Pay and WeChat. Twitter shut down its e-commerce services in January this year. and Snapcash, a payment service released by SnapChat 2014, could not live upto the initial hype around it. Even Google has been struggling to get the Google Wallet going, despite owning the Android ecosystem, introducing numerous integrations and streamlining features.

Messenger’s efforts in the payment space too has been rather muted. Facebook does not report the volume of transactions on its platforms. But regulatory filings accessed by Recode, suggest that payments represent less than three percent of the company’s revenue and has been shrinking in the past two years.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, The Ken reported that Facebook owned Whatsapp is launching payment services in India. Our take on it here.