Hacker exposes payments potential within Facebook Messenger
It’s been no secret that Facebook has been eyeing up the payments market for a while now – so much so that they hired former PayPal president David Marcus. But thanks to one enterprising hacker, it looks like that payments potential could burst forth sooner than we expect.
According to a report from TechCrunch, a student developer at Stanford has discovered the unreleased – and unannounced – payments feature from Facebook embedded into Facebook Messenger’s code. Andrew Aude discovered the feature thanks to using the hacking tool Cycript on the iOS version of the messaging app.
As is with all good leaks, the information was posted to Twitter on Saturday and included screengrabs to show the code in question.
— Andrew Aude (@andyplace2) October 4, 2014
Aude claims that the new payments system would let users pay one another via a debit card and their mobile phone.
Being the brave digital explorer, Aude then tested out the feature and was only able to use debit cards to send money as credit cards would not work.
“Based on my understanding of the debit interchange rates,” wrote Aude, “each transaction will cost Facebook roughly $0.40 to $0.50 (Durbin swipe fee + ACH fee),”
Weirdly, it seems that there’s been a note left behind in the code, probably informing those with authorised access to see how Facebook Messenger works to understand what the new payments system should be able to do. “In the short term, we will only support single payment attachment,” reads the note in the code discovered by Aude. “Multiple payment attachments will be supported in the future.”
What does this mean for the payments market? Probably not an awful lot – at least if it stays in a P2P form.
However, it could easily roll out into something bigger, and then it turns Facebook into a potential marketplace that allows users to sell on products or stores to set up shop there. It could become something big in the retail or reselling space, a new eBay perhaps?
Alternatively, Facebook may decide to roll the technology out to its other businesses like WhatsApp.