Facebook Messenger payments expand test market, bring improvements

Facebook Messenger's mobile payment system is going to undergo an update, which aims to increase user-friendliness, removing any obstacles that are preventing users from opting for Messenger for their peer-to-peer payment needs. The service was first introduced to Messenger users in March, in select U.S. cities such as Portland, Seattle, and Austin. The update adds New York City to the roster. The app just announced its incoming changes on Wednesday.

In this update, after activating the service by tapping a dollar sign. (If you're not in the select test market, it won't be available.) After that, any dollar amount typed will automatically be hyperlinked as a transfer. The sender can confirm his payment amount, and the receiving party should be able to get their new funds by clicking the hyperlinked amount.

Additionally, if a user is an a group conversation, he won't need to exit the group chat window to send money to a single user. So, the feature could be used to collect money in an office pool for a colleague, or solicit everyone you know for Girl Scout cookies in one fell swoop.

Competition in the mobile payment market continues to grow. Snapchat recently paired up with Square, creating Snapcash which allows users to transfer money as Square Cash, within the ephemeral messages. Facebook wants its users to stay logged into Messenger if they want to send funds. A lot of Messenger users are also Snapchat users, so the temptation for them to use Snapcash is high.

Facebook Messenger's payment system is grasping for a market foothold. PayPal's mobile payment use is falling, opening up the playing field for new entries. Currently, it mostly offers only peer-to-peer payments, but Facebook hopes to expand the third-party use of Messenger's SDK and API for business. Two companies, Zulily and Everlane, are already using Messenger for all things business, forgoing an in-house customer service chat window in favor or messenger.

I'm eager to see this expand from its current, limited selection of cities. It looks to be user-friendly way to pay someone back for getting dinner the other night, or collecting money from far away family members for the ultimate father's day present.

Source: CNet