Mobile Commerce

Can Facebook Monetize the Selfie?

On Dec. 31, 2014, Facebook rolled out a banner that enabled Messenger users to send selfies to their friends to wish them a Happy New Year. Instead, a lot of people went to the bug reporting feature of the Messenger app to send selfies to the development team thanking them for the feature. For Messenger Vice President David Marcus, this was an unexpected use of the new feature, but might be a possible monetization opportunity in the future.

In an interview with The Next Web, Marcus laid out the potential paths that Facebook’s Messenger app could take in the near future, including monetizing the app as well as moving it to the desktop, which is the most requested feature for Messenger users.

While the desktop version of the app, despite its high request figures, is unlikely according to Marcus, due to founder Mark Zuckerburg’s mobile-first approach, monetization may be a realistic goal. As a former president of PayPal, Marcus’ addition to the Messenger app makes it clear to some people that Zuckerburg wants to establish a payment option in the future. Last September, Facebook announced that its future “Buy” button will be developed by payment startup company Stripe, among other partnerships Facebook has made for mobile payment processing, including PayPal. Should it go that route, Facebook would be mirroring social media sites in Asia that make money-selling content within their apps, which is plausible for Facebook as well.

For now though, the focus is on how to “build the best messaging platform first”, says Marcus. Already a new app “Stickered for Messenger” allows people to place stickers on photos of themselves and send them through the Messenger app, as well as developing new ways for people to interact with each other through Facebook’s services, free or otherwise.


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