Facebook lets friends split dinner bills in Messenger

Dive Brief:

  • Facebook is supporting group payments within Messenger, according to a Facebook video post. The group payments allow users to request money from or send money to individuals or all users in a group conversation. A given amount can also be split between the users. 
  • The feature is free to access with Mastercard and Visa debit cards, and is available in the U.S. on Android and desktop. It’s expected to launch for iOS users at a later date.    
  • Money will be transferred from Facebook Messenger users to their friends within five days, which The Verge points out is not as quick as Venmo’s next-business-day deposits. Group chat contains updates on friends who’ve shelled out for their portions of shared debts. 

Dive Insight:

Facebook has been augmenting payments across its properties, including the initiation of payments in Messenger starting in 2015. Despite the expansion of payment capabilities, TechCrunch insisted payments aren’t an area of focus for Facebook. David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook, told Recode that Messenger isn’t out to take cuts from payments and instead will rely on advertising to drive revenues. Against the backdrop of its muted ambitions for payments, Facebook’s payments haul dropped to $753 million last year from a high of $974 million in 2014, per TechCrunch.

Asian messaging apps such as WeChat and Line have taken the counter approach, and erected large and growing businesses centered on payments and commerce. Facebook could certainly attempt to emulate their strategies and, based on Messenger’s reach to 1 billion monthly users, turn Messenger into a leading platform for payments. But Marcus has suggested the payments features in Messenger are mostly there to make the messaging app a seamless experience and give users a reason to not exit it in favor of alternative payments methods. Apparently, the ultimate goal is to retain users who will be served up ads. Avoiding arguments with friends over what they owe is a bonus. 

Filed Under: Apps Mobile marketing trends Tech and platform developments
Top image credit: Messenger