Facebook has announced the introduction of “Facebook Pay,” a payments service that will eventually be operable across Facebook proper as well as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The launch of the product, which is slated to operate similarly to Venmo or Paypal, was announced in a company blog post on Tuesday, November 12.
The company says that the service will allow its users to make payments to merchants and send money to other users using PIN numbers or biometric identification measures available on their phones.
Simplifying Payments with Facebook Pay https://t.co/KjOXPqoFOz
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) November 12, 2019
“People already use payments across our apps,” the announcement of the platform says
The announcement of the payment service comes in the midst of the social media giant’s ongoing efforts to launch Libra, a global cryptocurrency network that is also slated to be integrated with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Libra has been the target of much regulatory scrutiny as Facebook has failed to satisfy global regulators’ concerns about data privacy, anti-crime measures, and gaining too much control over the world economy.
In what seems to be a concerted effort not to further alarm regulators, Facebook seems to say that the launch of its new payments platform is essentially a re-branding of what it already offers with a few upgrades.
“People already use payments across our apps to shop, donate to causes and send money to each other,” the blog post announcing the platform reads. “Facebook Pay will make these transactions easier while continuing to ensure your payment information is secure and protected.”
The blog post also says that the platform is “built on existing financial infrastructure and partnerships.”
Mike Isaac, a Tech Reporter at the New York Times, echoed this statement in a Tweet:
fwiw a lot of the payments infrastructure is already in place across FB, Mssenger and Instagram so this is kind of a knitting together of a lot of existing things. kind of a branding exercise
(adding this to WA will be a big deal — WA and IG to come in the future)
— rat king (@MikeIsaac) November 12, 2019
The new service will at first be available to users in the United States starting this week for “fundraisers, in-game purchases, event tickets, person-to-person payments on Messenger and purchases from select Pages and businesses on Facebook Marketplace.”
Rumors of a “Facebook Pay” platform emerged on Twitter in September
While the product’s official launch came on the 12th of November, whispers that Facebook may have been developing an official payments platform began on Twitter as early as September, when Twitter user and renowned app vulnerability discoverer Jane Manchun Wong came across a Facebook Pay transaction page.
I've never seen "Facebook Pay" before. Is this a rebrand or a new service?
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 13, 2019
“I’ve never seen ‘Facebook Pay’ before. Is this a rebrand or a new service?” Wong asked in a Tweet.
A number of US-based payment processors pulled out of Libra last month
Notably, the launch of Facebook Pay comes weeks after every major US-based payment processor that originally signed on as a backer to the project made the decision to pull out; namely, Visa, PayPal, Stripe, and Mastercard. eBay, Mercado Pago, and Booking.com also pulled out of the project.
However, according to CoinTelegraph, Visa CEO Alfred F. Kelly has said that Visa is still in talks with Facebook regarding Libra.