Facebook is leveraging its scale to muscle in on the banking sector by enabling peer-to-peer payments in the UK for the first time.
Users of its Messenger app will be able to transfer cash directly from their phones or computers over the coming weeks after first linking their account to a debit card, enabling fee-free payments of £2,500 to be made.
A limit of £10,000 worth of transfers every 30 days will be established for the service to prevent fraud although experience from the US, where the system has been in place since 2015, suggests the majority will use it to transfer sums of £38 or less.
Facebook will take the hit of a small fee issued by the card companies for each transaction processed but believes this to be a price worth paying in order to improve the utility of their service. The social media platform is also at pains to stress that bank details will not be used to target ads.
Payments will be protected by a PIN system to prevent fraud and augmented by its M digital assistant, which will issue a handy prompt when someone asks for money.
Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus, said: “While it’s simple for people, it’s been complicated in the background, it’s taken a lot of work contractually but what we found in the UK is the banks are excited.”
Facebook’s speed has seen it outpace Apple which has yet to introduce its own iMessage payment service.