Mobile Payments -

Facebook testing new mobile payment option

Facebook is entering the mobile payment market with a new PayPal-like product. The on-the-go purchasing system would allow shoppers to input their Facebook login details to bypass the hassle of entering billing information.

Facebook confirmed the service, saying in an email that the social network is working on “a very small test” that pre-populates mobile apps with payment information, making purchases quicker and easier.

The program’s pilot partner, first reported by AllThingsD, is Thrillist-owned JackThreads, a members-only online shopping club for men, which counts much of its annual revenue from mobile purchases.

Expected to launch within the next month, the new service will go up against PayPal, but also compete against options from Google, Amazon and more.

“We continue to have a great relationship with PayPal, and this product is simply to test how we can help our app partners provide a more simple commerce experience,” Facebook Technology Communications Manager Tera Randall said in a statement. “This test does not involve moving the payment processing away from an app’s current payments provider, such as PayPal.”

The eBay-owned payment service isn’t concerned about competition, according to a spokeswoman.

“We have a great relationship with Facebook and expect that to continue,” she said in a statement. “Our customers love using PayPal on Facebook. We’ve been investing in mobile payments since 2006, and last year 10% of our total payment volume – $14 billion – was from mobile devices.”

As ATD pointed out, an expanded service could give the social network insight into users’ spending habits, helping to build a more keenly focused advertising platform on the world’s largest social media site.

The web giant already gathers credit card information via its Facebook Gifts system, which allows users to send physical presents to friends; the millions of gamers picking out in-game goodies within Facebook are also in the company’s financial files.

A year ago, Facebook dropped its three-year-old Credits function, which let people buy virtual goods with online tokens. Pricing started at $5 for 50 Credits, and went up to $200 for 2,360 Credits. But since most in-network titles have their own form of virtual currency, the platform-wide system was rendered moot.


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