Facebook Messenger code hints at in-store payment feature

Facebook is quietly working on a feature that will allow its users to make in-store purchases using its Messenger app, according to a new report. The feature and others were spotted in the app's code, with other possible future features including "secret conversations" perhaps akin to what WhatsApp recently rolled out. Facebook is tipped to have a large team working on the new buying feature.

Not too long ago, Facebook gave Messenger a money-sending feature that allows users to send each other money directly within the app. Per code discovered by The Information, the social network may be looking to greatly expand that feature, making it possible to pay for goods in-store. The feature would, it seems, use your credit and debit cards, authorizing the transaction through the app — therefore eliminating the need to use a POS terminal, which have increasingly become the target of hackers.

The code references the ability to "pay directly in Messenger when you pick up the item" and "pay in person" using the app. Under such an arrangement, it would compete with Android Pay and other various mobile payment systems, and may also expand the company's ability to target advertisements at users.

Not too long ago, news surfaced that Facebook would be allowing companies to directly send users ads through Messenger, doing so if the user first initiated a personal messaging thread with the company. If payments are done through Messenger, they'll likely involve the launch of a direct message, which may then authorize the company to directly target that user with its own advertisements.

The financial feature aside, the code also refers to a "secret conversations" feature that could, perhaps, be an encrypted chats feature, or something less substantial like the ability to hide a conversation on a device. Adding an encrypted feature would be a welcomed — and not entirely surprising — move considering the increased attention encryption has received and the growing consumer concern about privacy.

Facebook has not commented on the report.

SOURCE: The Information