Facebook wants us to use it to pay people as well as share cat photos

The social media giant wants to become indispensable in the developing world.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 14 Apr 2014

Facebook wants us to pay each other through the site, the tech giant’s latest move to try to get us to spend every waking hour of our life on the social network.

The company is closing in on getting regulatory approval in Ireland that would let users store money and pay others across Europe, according to various reports.

Facebook has also chatted up at least three London start-ups that offer online international money transfers - TransferWise, Moni Technologies and Azimo. Adhering to its tradition of chucking money at things it wants, the company offered Azimo $10m to give up one of its co-founders to become a Facebook business development director, according to the FT.

Allowing international payments would help Facebook on its way to facilitating services like migrant remittances, as it hungrily sniffs around abroad for new users while Western teenagers switch onto social networks sans parents. It fits neatly with Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative, a campaign to bring the internet to the five billion people currently without it (in the obvious hope that they’ll also become Facebook users).

‘Facebook wants to become a utility in the developing world, and remittances are a gateway drug to financial inclusion,’ an anonymous source told the FT.

The company already processed $2.1bn in the US in 2013, about 10% of its revenues. Most of that comes from a 30% fee on in-app game purchases (Candy Crush et al)

Chinese internet company Tencent and e-commerce giant Alibaba are also adding mobile payment functions to their sites at the moment. Google, meanwhile, is expanding its services, which haven’t been picked up much yet by users. Internet companies’ race against time to get us to do things on their sites that aren’t just procrastinating continues apace.

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