Instagram could soon turn into an e-commerce platform as the photo-sharing service gets support for payments. With the native payments feature, Instagram users can register a debit or credit card as part of their profile, set up a security pin, and then start buying things directly within the platform.
Instagram already allows major brands to showcase their products, and let users shop them from within the listing. With the new feature, it will enable shopping without the need to go to a third-party website or retailer’s e-commerce channel. Facebook-owned Instagram wants to not only own the display ads, but also enable shopping for nearly a billion users on its platform. The feature was first spotted by a TechCrunch reader who revealed how the payments feature will work on Instagram. The company consequently confirmed that native payments for booking appointments at restaurants or salons is now live for a limited set of partners.
The publication further notes that dinner reservation app Resy is one of the first to support the native payments feature. Instagram plans to enable support for buying things like movie tickets through the app in the future. At the moment, the feature is being partially rolled out for users in the US as well as UK, and the service is backed by Facebook’s Payments rules.
For Instagram, it only makes sense to support native payments feature since most brands on the platform already show you pictures and allow users to tap to view products. With native payments, it can probably turn those clicking to see these products into potential customer. For brands, Instagram might offer a higher click-through rate, and also lead to more brands advertising on the platform.
Instagram, however, will not be the first social media platform to toy with the idea of local commerce. Snapchat started testing its own native payments and checkout feature in February as it looks for new avenues to make money from highly engaged users. Instagram has shown its ambitions in the segments with the launch of Shoppable Tags in 2016, but none of its shopping feature partners like Hasselblad or DJI support checkout within Instagram for now. These major brands still send you to their own website to complete checkout.
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With native payments, Instagram seems to be sending a message of one-stop shopping where people discover products and services and eventually buy them without leaving the application. It is also unknown whether Instagram will be taking a cut of the revenue and whether it will lead to more clickable purchase for major shopping brands.