Hacked screenshots of Facebook Messenger's code reveal the development of an in-built friend-to-friend payment option. Discoverd by security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski and explored by a student developer named Andrew Aude using iOS app exploration developer tool Cycript, the hack revealed Facebook's possible intention to take on money-sharing competitors PayPal, Square Cash and Venmo.
As shown by the hacked images above and corresponding video, the app will be relatively simple and intuitive to use. Currently only developed for debit cards, users simply add a working card, enter the amount to be transferred, and send it through. In a report by TechCrunch, Aude then explains 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 [Automated Clearing House] deposit it, Identical to Square Cash.”
The reason only debit card is available is speculated to be due to their lower transaction costs, as well as the absence of approvals and extra details needed for credit accounts. At this stage, it has not been confirmed whether Facebook will take a cut of the transaction amounts, though due to the potential high revenue Messenger's 200 million active users will produce, it is likely they will eventually include a fee for the service.
A video posted by Josh Constine (@joshsc) on
Despite Aude's discovery that the application is virtually ready to run, users anticipating this new feature may be waiting a while. During the company's Q2 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that “over time there will be some overlap between [Messenger] and payments ... The payments piece will be a part of what will help drive the overall success and help people share with each other and interact with businesses”. However, as there is “there’s so much groundwork for [Facebook] to do", it might take "multiple years".
“To the extent that your models or anything reflect that we might be doing that, I strongly encourage you to adjust that, because we’re not going to. We’re going to take the time to do this in the way that is going to be right,” Zuckerberg concluded.
Do you feel peer-to-peer money sharing via Facebook Messenger is convenient or risky? Let us know in the comments below.
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