Instagram has quietly added the feature of making payments on its app, meaning users can now pay for products and services on the native app without leaving for another website or payment gateway. The development was first reported by TechCrunch, as the website noted it as a change that could make Instagram a much bigger player in commerce.

The option of payments by registering a debit or credit card and setting up a security pin is reportedly available to users in the US.  It is likely that the feature is seeing a phased rollout, but Medianama could not confirm the same. It is reported that some users have been able to book appointments at spas or restaurants through a third-party integration with dinner reservation app Resy. Instagram had, in March 2017, said that it will roll add the option for users to book a service directly from their profiles, but the payments option was not revealed at the time. The Instagram Payments feature is backed by Facebook Payments rules.

Implications?

Instagram is home to millions of businesses who advertise on the platform. It is also one of the primary platforms where influencer advertising takes place the most. If you are on Instagram, you cannot miss a fashion/tech or travel blogger posting about clothing brands or new destinations, many times through a paid partnership or a sponsorship.

Integrating a platform largely used for advertising and building engagement, with a native payment feature can be a surprising game changer for e-commerce, especially given Instagram’s base of both, users and advertisers. The feature essentially eliminates another layer of work a buyer would have to otherwise do, to make a purchase—thereby making the process simpler.

As TechCrunch’s Josh Constine puts it, “Even if Instagram takes no cut of the revenue, brands are likely to boost ad spend to get their shoppable posts seen by more people if the native payments mean more of them actually complete a purchase.”

Social media and payments

Instagram’s owner Facebook also allows payments in some capacity, albeit in a closed beta in its chat app Messenger. The option has been available since 2013, when it rolled out peer-to-peer payments.

WhatsApp’s UPI-based payments feature is also up and running in India, which was termed to be a beta launch. The payments roll out did create ripples in the industry for lack of security and WhatsApp has since added new features to it.

Video streaming site YouTube is also experimenting with payments, although in a different setup. YouTube CBO Robert Kyncl recently said that the sponsorship service is Live in beta, which allowed viewers/fans to give a creator money on a regular basis. Another feature on YouTube will be Superchat—a means to monetise live streaming. Kyncl also said that YouTube is experimenting with ticketing and merchandise in USA.