Facebook Pay has the opportunity to help overcome the hurdles micropayments have faced in the West to enable new lines of revenue for the industry. But can publishers ever trust them enough to make it work?
Earlier this week, Facebook announced its new payment service, Facebook Pay. Aimed at providing people with a ‘convenient, secure and consistent payment experience,’ the service will be enabled across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
If this seems out of the blue, that’s because it is. Some have suggested that the timing of the launch implies it’s a backup plan after its plans for a global currency, Libra, hit major roadblocks.
But Facebook has actually been testing a payment system for WhatsApp in India for over 18 months, and has processed more than $2 billion in donations through its fundraising tools, which launched in 2015. Given the success of competitor products like Apple Pay and Amazon Pay, it makes sense for the tech giant to broaden its ownership of financial transactions.
It’s a step that will almost certainly present publishers with a number of opportunities and challenges over the next few years.
What this means for publishing
Firstly, a disclaimer. Facebook haven’t yet said anything about allowing this system to pay for articles or content in any shape. Facebook Pay is rolling out in the US this week, and will initially focus on in-game purchases, fundraisers, event tickets and person-to-person payments on Messenger.
Selected Pages and businesses on Facebook Marketplace will also be able to use the functionality, although this is likely to be focused on products rather than services or content in the short term. Rollouts on Instagram and WhatsApp will follow, although there’s no set timings.