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Facebook introduces free payments on Messenger

Facebook has revealed that users can send money to other users using the Messenger app at no charge. Facebook Messenger payments will roll out first in the US over the coming months. The feature lets users connect their Visa or Mastercard debit card and tap a “$” button to send friends money on iOS, Android, and desktop.

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One of the big benefits of sending money on mobile is the convenience of it, both in its easy way to send money and that it is always a mobile handset away. While the feature is available on desktop too, its popularity will definitely be on mobile.

Making payments on Messenger seems fairly simple. The steps are as follows: both for sending and receiving money. To send money, a user must start a message with a friend, tap the $ icon and enter the amount they want to send, and once this is done tap Pay in the top right and add your debit card to send money.

To receive the money, a user must open the conversation from your friend, tap Add Card in the message and add your debit card to accept money for the first time.
Facebook says the money is transferred right away but may, depending on the bank a user uses, take up to three business days.

Send Money to Friends in Messenger from Facebook on Vimeo.

The other issue that mobile payments have to deal with is security. Facebook is quick to point out that it is no amateur in processing funds, noting that since 2007 it has been a “dependable and trusted payments processor for game players and advertisers”. Facebook claims that it processes more than one million transactions daily on the site and also handles all the payments processed on Messenger. The point being that your Messenger transactions will be secure.

“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,” the social network says. “A team of anti-fraud specialists monitor for suspicious purchase activity to help keep accounts safe.”

For extra security, users can also use an in-app payments passcode or Apple TouchID fingerprint to confirm transfers.

Messenger Payments in Africa

Though the feature is going to be introduced in the US first, and no date has been earmarked for the African market, it has the potential to overhaul the mobile payments space on the continent.

According to UK thinktank, the Overseas Development Institute, the African mobile payment market is among the most expensive in the world, with average transfer rates of 12% and excess fees costing the continent US$1.8-billion a year.

With Messenger Payments being completely free, it could see a rapid uptake in Africa. In 2014, Facebook announced that it had more than 100-million registered Facebook users in Africa, accounting for about half of the 200-million or so Africans connected to the internet.

What could also help with Africa’s uptake of Messenger uptake is that more than 80% of African users access Facebook every month on mobile.

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