That payments is the new battleground for consumer internet companies is a foregone conclusion. The Big Four — Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple — have made calibrated investments in their payment operations. While Apple Pay leads digital transactions in the US, the others are yet to take the internet world by storm. Facebook, for instance, allows peer-to-peer payments through Messenger, and the soon-to-be-launched WhatsApp Pay that will pilot in India. But now, it has emerged that the social media giant could be allowing cash transfer via its native app too.
Facebook is said to be testing a ‘Red Envelope’ feature that allows users to send cash gifts in varying amounts to their friends. The development was first spotted by Matt Navarra of The Next Web. He tweeted screenshots of the feature.
NEW: Facebook is testing a ‘Red Envelope’ feature to send cash gifts to friends pic.twitter.com/GsADKlKjqH
— Matt Navarra ⭐️ (@MattNavarra) November 3, 2017
Some users pointed out that the feature is similar to WeChat‘s which has made a success out of an integrated payments and social messaging service. The Red Envelope is associate with gifting on occasions, especially the Chinese New Year. Hence, Facebook’s inspiration is fairly evident. Without giving out much about the feature, Facebook told Recode that it is “always testing new product experiences but there’s nothing specific to talk about at this time.”
Earlier this year, Facebook had rolled out a group payments feature within its Messenger app, which takes its peer-to-peer payments mechanism (that was launched in 2015) a step ahead. Now, users on Android and desktop can send or receive money between groups on Messenger. The feature exists only in the US for now. In addition to sending payments to other group members, you can also request for payments from the group right within your chat window. ALSO READ: Facebook Messenger introduces group payments
If Facebook rolls out the Red Envelope feature widely, it could render Messenger Payments redundant. But the Silicon Valley giant isn’t bothered by repetitive features, given how it refuses to give up on Facebook Stories (a replica of Instagram Stories) that has been termed a disaster. And payments is one share of the consumer wallet that Facebook would be keen to grab, as digital spending soars across the world. With WhatsApp Pay around the corner, the digital payments space is surely up for some disruption.