Facebook Inc. is giving users the ability to send money to friends through its Messenger application, building off the expertise of a former PayPal executive that the social network hired last year.
The new tool will be rolled out in the coming months in the U.S. for desktop computers and Google Inc.’s and Apple Inc.’s mobile platforms, Facebook said Tuesday on its website. The move had been expected after the Menlo Park, California-based company last June hired David Marcus, formerly the president of PayPal, to lead the social network’s messaging group.
Facebook doesn’t plan to take fees for the transactions for the time being, a spokeswoman for the company said. The feature nonetheless will help the company keep up with the many other social apps that let friends exchange funds, including Venmo, Snapchat and EBay Inc.’s PayPal. Marcus has said he takes inspiration from Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, China’s dominant messaging app, which provides services such as payments and car-hailing services.
Users can send or receive money by adding a debit card to their accounts and creating a personal ID number. People can add further authentication to enhance security. Facebook built the tool in house, the company said.
After separating Messenger from Facebook’s main application last year, the company said in November that the app had amassed more than 500 million users. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has said he probably wouldn’t be interested in generating revenue from Messenger until it has 1 billion users.
Facebook said it already processes more than a million secure transactions daily, including payments for game players and advertisers. The company has said payments were a ripe opportunity, given that people already use their accounts on the social network to establish their identities on the Internet. Facebook said it’s asking for debit-card numbers so users never have to input their bank-account and routing numbers.