On Monday, the social network announced that it was introducing peer-to-peer payments to its messaging app Messenger in the UK, letting people send cash to their friends and contacts.
The feature has existed in the US since 2015, but this is the first time it has been launched anywhere outside of the US or in a currency other than dollars.
“Our research shows the top reasons for sending money include celebrations, social, and festive occasions; it’s those everyday moments we’re trying to make a little easier,” Messenger boss David Marcus said in an emailed statement. “We’ve seen that in the U.S. most people use payments in Messenger to send less than $50 at a time.”
It’s rolling out in “the coming weeks,” so it won’t be available to all users straight away.
To use it, go into a chat with a friend and tap the plus button, and it will then let you select the option to pay them. You then enter your card details (if it’s the first time you’re doing it) and the amount you want to pay, and it’s sent to your friend — who can accept it by entering their card details too.
The company doesn’t charge a fee on payments.
Facebook’s virtual assistant “M” will also attempt to detect when a payment might be appropriate and suggest it. If you receive a messaging saying “You owe me £16 for your burger,” for example, it will prompt you to send your friend £16.
Facebook says that users’ debit card details are “encrypted and protected with bank level security, our world-class anti-fraud specialists monitor payments, and in the rare case that we find unauthorized activity on an account, we’ll work with them to secure the account again.”
The move puts Facebook in competition with payment companies like Paypal, as well as — to an extent — the British app-only bank Monzo, which has become known for its simple peer-to-peer payments.
In July 2017, David Marcus told reporters from Business Insider and other outlets that Facebook planned to launch peer-to-peer payments in the next 12 months, “as soon as we get everything lined up” with partner financial institutions.