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Tap $ to send money to Facebook friends

Barry Collins
18 Mar 2015
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Social network offers new way to wire money to your friends

Once there was a time when all you could do was "poke" friends on Facebook - now you can pop money directly into their bank accounts with a new feature in Facebook Messenger. The service, which is currently rolling out in the US, lets you transfer small sums of money to acquaintances by doing nothing more than tapping a dollar sign and typing the amount that you wish to send.  

The feature requires both sender and receiver to first hand over their card details to Facebook, and the service currently only works with debit cards, not credit cards, which in the UK offer less protection against fraud. However, Facebook is at pains to elaborate on the ways in which it secures transactions. 

"We use secure systems that encrypt the connection between you and Facebook as well as your card information when you ask us to store it for you," Facebook explains in a blog post introducing the new system. "We use layers of software and hardware protection that meet the highest industry standards. These payment systems are kept in a secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network and that receive additional monitoring and control. A team of anti-fraud specialists monitor for suspicious purchase activity to help keep accounts safe."

What's more, Facebook gives users the option of being forced to enter a PIN before money can be transfered. iPhone and iPad users can use the Touch ID fingerprint recognition to verify transactions on compatible devices. Facebook also offers two-step authentication as standard, ensuring that nobody can log in with your details on unauthorised devices. 

Facebook says the money is transferred to the recpient right away, although it can take up to three business days before it can be withdrawn from a bank. Facebook doesn't take any commission on money transfers, although the service can only be used for personal transactions between friends and family and not for businesses, before retailers get excited about avoiding merchant fees. It seems likely that once Facebook has seeded the idea of sending money to friends, the scheme will be extended to cover payments for games and other products, for which Facebook could earn commission.

Facebook's by no means the first service to offer such peer-to-peer payments. Most notably, Snapchat launched a similar service, dubbed Snapcash, late last year, while standalone apps such as Barclays Pingit offer comparable features here in the UK. Facebook says it does plan to offer Messenger payments internationally, but hasn't specified if and when it will be coming to the UK.

 

 

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