The whispers about Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) move into payments are getting louder, with indications now pointing to its Messenger app as a means of conveying funds.
In an interview with The Next Web, David Marcus, Facebook's Messenger VP, discussed some of Facebook's payment options, while emphasizing there are no immediate plans to integrate payments into the Messenger platform. Ever since Apple unveiled Apple Pay last year, mobile wallet apps and other payment systems have been getting more attention.
In the fall, leaked screenshots by security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski and developer Andrew Aude indicated that Messenger would be Facebook's vehicle for payments. The Messenger app for iOS has built-in codes that would support a mobile payment system, according to Aude.
If, or when, Facebook gets into payments, it is more likely to partner with another company, Marcus indicated. Until recently, Marcus was the president of PayPal, although Facebook has an existing deal with Stripe to handle transactions from its "Buy" button.
"For Facebook, it doesn't make sense to build a payments business. It makes sense to remove friction from payments experiences so that advertisers, and people, can actually get more of what they want," he said. "Fixing payments across all Facebook properties from an experience standpoint and really making sure it's frictionless is really important."
The rumors about the fast-moving company's plans for payments gained traction in mid-2014, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an earnings call that a payments system will eventually be developed for Messenger, which is Facebook's mobile messaging app. This was about a month after the company hired Marcus.
Zuckerberg cautioned that Facebook would not adopt a payment technology in the short run and implementation is "years" in the future. The company won't take "the cheap and easy approach and just try to put ads in, or do payments and make some money in the short term. We're not going to do that," he said. Messenger will have "overlap" with payments, he noted.
In a fourth-quarter earnings call, COO Sheryl Sandberg said: "We think the opportunity to connect consumers with the product that they purchase is a really big one. Where we play in that most directly is the time and attention consumers have, as well as information to very relevant advertising, and we're going to see a focus there."
Facebook's commerce strategy aligns with delivering on its core mission in connecting millions of consumers to each other and enabling billions of people to share, whether it be photos, stories or even commerce activities, CFO David Wehner said on the same earnings call.
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