Facebook Pay Is a New Name for What Facebook Was Already Doing With Your Data
The initiative highlights how confusing the connections between Facebook’s various payment systems have been until now
Facebook announced a new feature this week that will allow customers to make transactions using the same payment method across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. In the process, it inadvertently revealed what a mess Facebook payments have been up to this point.
In a statement to CNN Business, Facebook’s vice president of marketplace and commerce Deb Liu explained that part of the reason for this initiative, called Facebook Pay, was to “make sure that it’s really clear to people — that they have an understanding that these are unified products.” Like Apple Pay, the whole Facebook Pay system will have one banner, so users always know who’s getting their info and how it’s used.
This sort of clarity has been sorely lacking in Facebook’s various disparate and disconnected payment systems up to this point. Facebook has been dabbling in users’ financial information as far back as 2015, when it first allowed users to send money to each other through Messenger. Since that time, the company has made it possible to go shopping and donate to fundraisers on its platform, while separately launching similar shopping features on Instagram. All of these features require some payment system for Facebook and its partners to process sending money from one party to another.
By merging all of its payment systems under one banner Facebook is attempting to do out in the open what it has sometimes done behind the scenes.
Prior to Facebook Pay’s rollout—which is still ongoing—the connection between Facebook’s various payment systems could be confusing. For example, if a Facebook user inputted their credit card information while donating to a fundraiser, Facebook Messenger would autofill that information later when they sent money to a friend. This connectivity sort of makes sense, as both fundraisers and Messenger are branded Facebook properties. But sending money to friends and donating to a fundraiser are very different actions…