Payments Popularity Contest, As Measured by Facebook Fans

Which payments companies have gotten the most out of the consumer engagement opportunities presented by Facebook? We highlight some of the most popular payments brands on Facebook below, and include some other notable competitors for each category: networks, issuers, credit cards, e-tailers, and acquirers.

Most Popular Network: MasterCard (198,379 fans)

At the point of sale, Visa was the more popular purchase option in 2011: Americans spent $1.15 trillion with Visa debit cards versus $393 billion for MasterCard debit; and bought $888 billion worth of stuff using Visa credit cards against $508 billion for MasterCard credit.

But on Facebook, MasterCard is victorious, claiming roughly 33% more fans (198,379) than its closely related competitor (153,493 for Visa).

MasterCard’s numbers may have recently received a bump from its Grammys promotion; on Jan. 31, the network initiated a contest offering two tickets to next year’s music award event.

Most Popular Issuer/Network: American Express (2,386,348 fans)

Since both American Express and Discover issue credit cards in addition to maintaining a payments network, it’s expected that that additional exposure to consumers should boost each company’s popularity on Facebook. And indeed, that expectation holds true in this case.

Between the two, Amex has Discover beat, likely due in part to a Facebook-centric customer relations campaign launched by Amex in July. Called “Link, Like, Love,” the program gives Amex’ Facebook fans access to exclusive deals, like discounts at popular merchants or premium media content. At launch, Amex had already established partnerships with dozens of other companies, including 20th Century Fox, Dunkin’ Donuts, Whole Foods Market, Lord & Taylor, and Outback Steakhouse.

Amex also operates a community-driven small business forum on Facebook called American Express OPEN, which provides resources and advice to small business owners, and encourages consumers to shop at small businesses. The Facebook page for Amex’ OPEN platform has more fans (241,386) than MasterCard or Visa do on their primary pages.

Discover’s Facebook fan total is 844,477.

Most Popular Issuer: Capital One (2,494,351 fans)

Earlier this year, Capital One was named to a short list of “Social media stars” at CNNMoney for its efforts across a variety of platforms. Kudos were given for the firm’s @AskCapitalOne Twitter account, as well as its efforts to utilize Foursquare to connect to customers.

On Facebook, the company leverages its ties with the NCAA to engage with consumers. The Capital One Cup, an award given to the best overall collegiate athletics program, has its own page with nearly 12,975 fans. And the page for its annual Mascot Challenge is even more popular, with 75,463 likes.

Of Note: If you search for “Bank of America” on Facebook, six of the top ten results are negative.

Most Popular Credit Card: Chase Freedom (485,799 fans)

JP Morgan Chase made what appears now to have been an extremely wise decision in 2006, when it signed a one-year deal to be the exclusive credit card sponsor for Facebook. Since then, the credit card issuer has been extremely successful in engaging with its customers on Facebook.

The Chase Freedom card is by far the most popular card on the network. Furthermore, it seems Chase is able to procure roughly 50,000 fans any time it creates a page for a new product. For example, its page for Ink from Chase has 49,852 fans; Chase Slate has 49,916 fans; and the page for Chase Blueprint has 52,479 fans.

Most Popular Prepaid Card: Visa Prepaid (326,487 fans)

Despite losing to MasterCard in the main event, Visa still goes home with some hardware.

The popularity of its prepaid card on Facebook is no doubt being boosted by a giveaway campaign called “Build Your Best Year.” Running between Jan. 16 and Feb. 29, Visa is giving away 31 prizes to its fans each day; 30 lucky fans will receive a $15 Visa prepaid “e-gift” card, and one fan wins the grand prize of a Kindle Fire.

That’s nearly a $30,000 investment in Visa Prepaid’s Facebook popularity.

Most Popular E-Tailer: iTunes (19,985,277 fans)

Apple wins again. It’s even more popular on Facebook than Walmart, which has roughly 12.7 million fans of its own.

In fact, the competition between a few of the web’s most popular e-tailers — Apple,, and Barnes & Noble — slightly resembles the current share rankings in the tablet market. Apple is way out in front, followed by Amazon (2,844,977 fans), then Barnes & Noble (1,268,361).

Other Notables: eBay (2,199,039 fans), iTunes UK (1,097,208), Etsy (665,135)

Most Popular Alternative Payments Network: PayPal (316,983 fans)

There’s not a lot of direct competition in this division. Perhaps the most similar e-payment processor with a Facebook presence is Dwolla, which has just 16,441 fans so far.

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