So there you have it…  Facebook Messenger is a payments app.

I said this three years ago, in another blog article I wrote for our old company.   Why is this news today?

Because is reporting that Facebook and Paypal are teaming up on mobile payments via Facebook Messenger, just in time for the launch of Apple Pay Cash.   In an article about Messenger, I also said this was the next thing coming.  I just didn’t realize how long it would be.

From –

Ahead of the impending launch of Apple Pay Cash in Messages, Facebook and PayPal today announced a new partnership that allows users to send money to each other via Messenger. Today’s announcement is an extension of a partnership between the two companies that began last year….

Last year, PayPal and Facebook partnered to allow users to connect their accounts from both services, making it easier to shop on Messenger using PayPal. Today’s announcement, however, takes things a step further.

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Fortunately we haven’t yet archived the old blog site (although we will soon and the link will 404 then), but here’s the gist of what I said back then –

Here’s the blurb from the second article –

Ran across this article on – with some screen shots of Messenger showing payments potential.  Since it’s hidden in the current version, one can only speculate as to the reason it ‘suddenly’ became viewable by at least one person savvy enough to screen shot it and send it to the press…

Let’s not forget that I called it way back in mid August, right here on this blog :)

Yep, I’m smiling.  You know it.

What’s next on their list?  Partnering with Paypal as soon as they’re disengaged from eBay and running as two separate entities?  That was my out loud voice  ;)

Ooops!  Wait a minute, I actually said it multiple times…  the first time was on this blog post, also for our old company, and also likely to be archived at some point in the not too distant future.

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Ok, you’re hearing it here first.

All this hullabaloo about the new Messenger app — supposedly downloaded more than a billion times already — and dead silence from FB in return.  No defending it, no apologizing for it, nope, not a word.  Mum.  Radio silence.  For an app that’s averaging one star in the ratings and reviews.

So this can go one of two ways, if you think about it.  Just like the uproar last month when someone at FB admitted that they play tricks on people to see how they’ll react – changing the algorithms for certain feeds, checking to see if they can swing peoples’ moods one way or another, and so forth – this could be a big ole joke, on everyone.  And FB will roll us all back to the regular FB app and say something along the lines of, sorry, you guys didn’t like it, and we listened.  Great PR in the making if that’s the case.

I don’t think that is the case.  I believe that with Apple’s Passbook (and iBeacon) making headlines everywhere, Google having a wallet, Amazon launching a wallet, Paypal launching a wallet, Samsung launching a wallet, err, you get my drift, yes?  Facebook must have a wallet in the making.  If we look at why Google, Samsung, ISIS (carrier created and AMEX supported, in the midst of a re-naming and re-branding we understand), and some other wallets have not done well, the number one factor would be lack of distribution guarantee.  When someone has the choice of downloading this wallet or that wallet, they quite often download NO wallet.  Or they don’t use it because they have no interest in it.

The approach that Apple is taking with their wallet – Passbook (and likely Healthbook in the iOS8 update), is more of a forced feature that is integral to the operating system and can’t be removed.  Any competitors, like Google Wallet or ISIS or Amazon, are second class citizens in this economy since users have to go and get the app, install the app, open the app, use the app, remember they have the app, and all that good stuff that creates the normal lack of interest and speedy destruction of most apps that make it to a production release.

The approach that Facebook is taking with Messenger is also more of a forced feature – if you want to message on mobile, you will change to the app.  Or you won’t receive messages, even though the regular app will tease you with their existence.

So Facebook has the opportunity to be like Apple – put an app on many, many phones and make it stick.  What FB doesn’t have is a base of valid credit card numbers that is nearly 600 million strong.  The only other companies in the potential wallet as a payment platform who have anything like that are Amazon (200+ million) and Paypal (120 million approximately) – and both companies have released wallet products recently.

If I were betting, I’d go with Paypal teaming up with Facebook (especially since we know that Paypal tried to cut a deal with Apple but got rebuffed back in the spring); this would offer each company leverage it doesn’t currently have, and a much better chance to get in early and dominate the market.

Visa/MC have their own ideas, with Visa Checkout and MasterPass, but either company would be considerably relieved if any wallet that relies on credit card funding gains traction – or all wallets for that matter – since it only ups their stake in the game.  The one thing that the card issuers don’t want is for end users to gain a method of funding these wallets that does not involve traditional debit or credit products in card number form.  With the transition to EMV by October 2015 in the works for all US terminals (and this includes every ATM in the US), it’s a crazy time to be in the business of physical or virtual credit card acceptance.

Merchants could swing towards mPOS (including iPad or other tablet cash registers), shutting out the traditional POS terminal makers, mostly as a matter of cost versus functionality, or the Verifones and NCRs could get in early and retain a dominant role, that’s too close a race to call yet.

Oh well, you heard it here first.  Facebook Messenger is the seed of a mobile wallet product that will likely be paired with an existing deposit account, and I’m guessing it’s Paypal.   I think initially we’ll see geo-fencing notifications, indoor locator beacons, and some other time based notifications, followed by the addition of the payments feature sometime in 2015 being the likely earliest that can be rolled out.



Here’s the screenshot from the original blog post that goes with the second quote.

facebook messenger mobile wallets app


It’s not everyday that I have to wait three years for my predictions to come true, but when they do just that – in almost the exact way I predicted, well, you know that makes me grin even more!

Of course I do feel silly that I missed the Apple Pay Cash thing in its entirety.