FACEBOOK is giving the more than 500 million users of its Messenger app the ability to send money to each other‚ becoming the latest mobile platform to incorporate a payments service.
Once users link a Visa or MasterCard debit card to their Messenger account‚ they can send their friends money by tapping a dollar sign in the chat box.
Facebook said the feature would become available to US users in the coming months.
The service would be free‚ and Facebook said it had no plans to monetise it.
The feature is not a surprise. Last summer‚ PayPal chief David Marcus joined Facebook to become vice-president of messaging products.
A few months later‚ technology blog TechCrunch posted what it reported were hacked screenshots of a payments feature within Facebook Messenger.
Facebook has processed payments on its larger main site for years‚ but it does not let users send money to each other. The company’s WhatsApp messenger app‚ with more than 700 million users‚ also does not have a payments feature.
There are now a host of options to pay by text or e-mail‚ however. Mobile-payments company Square has a cash feature that allows users to send money to others for free over e-mail with a debit card.
Ephemeral messaging service Snapchat introduced a service in November called Snapcash that lets users 18 years or older send money to anyone using the app free of charge.
EBay‚ through its PayPal subsidiary‚ has been offering consumer-to-consumer payment methods for years‚ including via e-mail and through its app.
Its Venmo unit‚ which it acquired in the deal for payment firm Braintree in late 2013‚ has become a popular option for transferring funds among university students. Venmo’s service is free‚ although it takes a fee for transfers using a credit card.
Facebook said it would handle all the payments processed on Messenger. The social networking giant said it currently processed more than one million transactions daily for game players and advertisers.