Facebook Messenger could soon introduce peer-to-peer money transfers

If you’re travelling penniless to a place with no access to banks or ATMs, instead of just a sympathetic text message, you’ll soon be able to accept help in the form of cash from a friend or a relative with Facebook Messenger.

Facebook has yet to officially launch the service, but Stanford computer science student Andrew Aude discovered that the system is already in place on the company's iOS app. According to the screenshots posted by Aude, the app will require you to register a debit or credit card with Facebook before transferring money to your contacts.

According to Business Insider, the market for peer-to-peer transfers and remittances is worth well over $1 trillion globally. Facebook aims to tap into this market with its now standalone Messenger app. However, this might only be possible via mobile phones and only in some countries for some time. Note that mobile payments have a huge potential in emerging markets, where there's limited access to banks, ATMs and money transfer agencies. Facebook's peer-to-peer payments system would hence make more sense in such markets.

There’s no news on the pricing and whether or not the service will come at a fee. Aude revealed to TechCrunch that each transaction will cost Facebook $0.40 to $0.50, though the app didn’t mention any fee. Facebook might launch the service free of cost to lure in more people to use its service.

That said, most mobile payments services worldwide such as Vodafone M-Pesa are either free or extremely cheap to subscribe to. Facebook could also monetise through banks for transactions made through its app. This means for every transaction, a small percentage would go to Facebook. Of course, the entire process will be clear once Facebook announces the service officially.

Facebook already has an electronic payments system in place for promotions on Pages. However, it would have to take efforts in convincing average users that it can provide a safe and secure environment for carrying out cash transfers as well.

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