Facebook has faced a maelstrom of criticism ever since it announced the Libra cryptocurrency. Lawmakers and bankers have been quite vocal in their negative views towards the developing stablecoin. However, it seems that Facebook is not waiting for Libra to launch a global payment platform as they have now introduced Facebook Pay.
Facebook Pay is not a virtual currency. It is a payment system that uses credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal as options.
Users can use Facebook Pay to buy items from shops, send money to other users, and donate to charity. The payments system can be used across the stable of apps associated with Facebook: Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. The payments will be processed on existing platforms, such as Stripe and PayPal.
Facebook Pay will launch this week in the United States on Facebook and Messenger. No timetable has been announced for when the system will launch on the other apps or in other countries.
No Libra Yet? Full Speed Ahead!
The announcement of Facebook Pay shows that Mark Zuckerberg and company did not put all their eggs into the Libra basket. Such a project would have required quite a bit of time to develop.
Libra has faced mounting criticism in the last few months. Financial ministers from the G20 recently released a statement that said there are “serious” risks associated with stablecoins, such as the Libra. France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, wrote an op-ed in October that lambasted the notion of cryptocurrencies issued by non-government entities, saying, “France’s position is clear: we want financial innovation to respect the sovereignty of states. Neither political nor monetary sovereignty can be shared with private interests.”
Lawmakers in the U.S. government have been very skeptical of Libra, and Zuckerberg recently endured a six-hour committee meeting where representatives grilled the Facebook founder over the cryptocurrency.
The Libra Association, the Geneva-based consortium that governs the stablecoin, recently lost PayPal, Stripe, Mastercard, Visa, and eBay as members. Such an exodus caused speculation on the future of Libra, but it appears that Facebook has maintained positive relations with such companies as most of them are part of the Facebook Pay platform.
Facebook Pay Features
Users can choose which apps to have Facebook Pay active, such as only on Messenger, or they can choose to have it active across the entire network of apps. One positive feature is that once the preferred payment method is selected, such as PayPal or a Visa debit card, the user will not have to enter the payment information again for each purchase or transfer.
Facebook is offering real-time customer support in the United States and plans to roll such service out to other regions in the future. The social media behemoth is also promising security with Facebook Pay, which is something that many users will be looking for after the data breaches of the last few years.
The system is reportedly designed to securely store and encrypt card and bank account numbers, as well as perform anti-fraud monitoring to detect unauthorized usage. An interesting facet of their security measures is that users can add a PIN or use their device’s biometric features, such as facial ID, to add a secondary layer of protection whenever they wish to transfer money. Facebook says they do not receive or store the biometric information.
Overall, it seems that Facebook plans on taking multiple roads when it comes to payments as Facebook Pay is entirely separate from Libra. It is fascinating to note how quietly Facebook was able to pull this off as all of the focus in the last few months has been entirely upon Libra.