A Stanford University student, Andrew Aude had discovered that Facebook is all ready to switch on the mobile payment service feature, which is found hidden in the current Facebook Messenger iPhone app.
“With Facebook Messenger, you attach money just like you attach a photo or a location. You don’t even have to link a bank account!” Aude who is also a security researcher and iOS developer wrote in his Twitter.
In screenshots posted, code from the messenger app shows a feature to allow users to add a credit or debit card to their account. It then allows users to send money to their friends via messages.
Aude 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”. The payments code in the messenger was first discovered by Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher last month.
“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 newsfeed,” Aude added.
In July, Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company will take its time to monetize FB Messenger through payments, adding that there will be overlaps between the messenger and payments.
“Facebook has long been expected to unveil a mobile payments service, and made moves to that effect by allowing third-party developers to enable money transfer across the social network using apps as early as 2010,” The Guardian wrote.
The speculation on Facebook to activate payments services was further strengthen after Facebook hired David Marcus, former president of PayPal as its vice-president of messaging products earlier this year.
Aude also told TechCruch that he expects no payment will be charged on users at the initial stage after the service is launched, but Facebook could add a USD1 fee later on. He added that each transaction made will probably cost Facebook between USD0.40 and USD0.50.
Facebook does have permission to transfer money within games apps such as Candy Crush Saga and Farmville in the United States. In 2013, the company had completed USD2.1 billion (about SGD2.7 billion) transactions, mainly channeled to the games publishers.
Earlier this year, Facebook had gained regulatory approval in Ireland for its e-money status in Europe, according to a report by The Guardian. This will allow Facebook to operate digital payments across European Union countries.