On Tuesday, the social network announced a new feature for Messenger that lets users send and receive money to one another. The feature will roll out to Facebook users in the U.S. across desktop, Android and iOS over the next few months. Facebook users can only add their debit card information for now, a decision the company said was made to minimize fraud and avoid fees.
Users who add their debit card information in Messenger’s settings section can send payments by striking up a conversation with a friend, selecting the “$” icon that will appear in the row above the software keyboard, and tapping “Pay.” Users who receive money do so by opening up that friend’s message and accepting the payment when prompted. Like bank deposits, payment may take up to three business days to go through.
People already pay each other for various things like paying the rent or splitting the dinner bill, “so why don’t we finish those conversations in the same place we started?” Steve Davis, Facebook’s payments program manager, told Mashable.
With the new payments feature, Facebook is making a play to get users to stay on the social network for longer time periods, plain and simple. Digital marketing firm eMarketer estimated that adults in the U.S. averaged 21 minutes per day on Facebook in 2014 — the equivalent of 6% of their time spent online. Those are some solid stats, given Facebook remains the second-most trafficked site domestically and globally (behind Google), but like any Internet company, the longer people spend using their service, the better. You can now pay your friends through Facebook Messenger