Hacked Screenshots Show Friend-To-Friend Payments Feature Hidden In Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger is all set up to allow friends to send each other money. All Facebook has to do is turn on the feature, according to screenshots and video taken using iOS app exploration developer tool Cycript by Stanford computer science student Andrew Aude.
Messenger’s payment option lets users send money in a message similar to how they can send a photo. Users can add a debit card in Messenger, or use one they already have on file with Facebook. An in-app pincode also exists for added security around payments.
It’s unclear whether Facebook will monetize Messenger by charging a small fee for money transfers, or offer the functionality for free to drive usage of its standalone chat app. That will be up toDavid Marcus, the new head of Messenger who was formerly the president of PayPal.
Why Facebook chose to poach Marcus is now obvious: Facebook Messenger payments could compete with Venmo, PayPal, Square Cash, and other peer-to-peer money transfer apps.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the company’s Q2 earnings call 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, he urged Wall Street not to get too foamy at the mouth because it may be awhile since “there’s so much groundwork for us to do.”
He urged analysts and investors to revise their estimates of Facebook’s revenue if they expected this to come quickly. “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 over multiple years” Zuckerberg concluded.
The presence of payments code in Messenger was first discovered by security researcherJonathan Zdziarski last month. Aude tells me 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. I contacted the company to inquire about Messenger payments. Facebook declined to comment.