The long-anticipated Facebook Messenger payments offering is real and imminent, based on screen captures of Facebook code now circulating.
“Messenger’s payment option lets users send money in a message similar to how they can send a photo,” TechCrunch reported. “Users can add a debit card in Messenger or use one they already have on file with Facebook. An in-app (PIN) also exists for added security around payments.”
One security researcher told TechCrunch that he “used Cycrypt to dig into the Messenger for iOS code on his jailbroken iPhone and turn on the payments feature to nab the screenshots and video.”
Given that the code is preliminary and the service has yet to be announced, much can change and any details surmised from the code captures might yield nothing more than initial placeholder plans from a Facebook developer. With that caveat caveated, the story did make some guesses as to specific attributes of what Facebook has in mind.
“You simply hit a button to initiate a payment, enter the amount you want to send, and send it. Facebook keeps the transaction private and doesn’t publish anything about it to the News Feed.
In the version investigated, Messenger payments only worked with debit cards, not credit cards or bank accounts,” the story said. The researcher “didn’t see PayPal as a payment option in Messenger, though there are notes about PayPal in the code unearthed. Facebook automatically lists payment methods you’ve set up in its main app to pay for games or ads.”
The service will apparently initially support only person-to-person payments, but a note discovered in the code suggests that will be only temporary. The note said: “In the short term, we will only support single payment attachment. Multiple payment attachments will be supported in the future.” That said, “in the future” can be a very long time.
Sometimes, the speculation seemed thinner than others. Whenever the word “magical” appears, eyebrows should be raised. “As for how the money is actually transferred, (the researcher) tells me that ‘The mechanism it uses is to debit one account, and then use some magical means to lookup the bank account number of the recipient and ACH deposit it, identical to Square Cash.”