Slideshow 6 Ways Facebook Is Encroaching on Payments

  • June 17 2016, 2:12pm EDT
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Facebook is poking its fingers into a lot of seemingly unrelated businesses, but commerce is always at the heart of its efforts. Here are some ways Facebook is building a new foundation for payments.

Texting Takeover

The Facebook Messenger app, which allows users to communicate with their Facebook friends in real time, can now be used as a replacement for an Android phone's built-in texting app. This may give Facebook a leg up on Allo, Google's upcoming messaging app that allows users to order food and make other purchases from the chat screen.

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Uber and Beyond

Facebook's Messenger is no slouch when it comes to commerce. Already, if users are talking about making plans, the app will link to their Uber app to hail a ride. This is just a taste of the "developer ecosystem" Facebook is planning around its technology.

Robot Revolution

Facebook is also bringing "bots" to its Messenger app, combining artificial intelligence and big data to predict users' needs — and, perhaps, their purchases. “I find it pretty ironic…now to order from 1-800-Flowers you never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said of one of the system's first bots.

Plucked from PayPal

The Messenger business is led by David Marcus, former president of PayPal. Zuckerberg downplayed Marcus' background when he was hired — admitting only that there would be "some overlap" between Messenger and payments — but it's clear that Marcus' experience is being put to work for the social network.

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Getting Personal

In March of 2015, less than a year after Marcus took the top job in Facebook's Messenger business, the social network launched a nationwide person-to-person payment system within the Messenger app.

Moving into Mobile

Given the prominence of Facebook's desktop website, why are so many of its moves in payments tied to mobile? Nearly 40% of retail purchases took place on a mobile device last year and 60% of omni-channel shoppers say they will make purchases on their smartphones this year, according to Facebook research. Of millennials, 69% are making purchases on a mobile device.