The author seems to confuse credit risk and fraud risk. Credit risk pertains to the probability of you being unable or unwilling to honour your commitments. Fraud, within this context, pertains to the unauthorised use of funds. Facebook's data may be a uniquely valuable to evaluating the former, but to fighting the latter it is less important than existing transaction history databases.
Financial fraud is an immensely complicated problem. An estimate quoted in The Economist recently put the fraud loss rate at approximately 0.35% of transactions and up to 1.8% for online payments . Cross-border payments are a niche unto themselves - even with margins as high as 10%, the fraud risk still poses a high enough barrier to entry that even the banks handle just 5-10% of remittances .
It's 11AM and so far Visa and American Express already have 1-3 data points of swipe activity on me. Over the day they'll get 5-10 swipes apiece (+1 NYC). Facebook has a tremendous amount of value in its dataset, but think for a moment about how much Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or your primary bank know about where you live, what you spend on (and by virtue when and where you spend it), and, by aggregating that data, who you tend to spend with. That is what's valuable for anti-fraud and by proxy payments processing.
For the ~$2 trillion going through online payments, bringing down the online fraud loss by every 0.1% is equal to $2B, if over time Facebook can reduce that online fraud rate by 0.5% or more there is your $10B.
Using your real identity to make online payments could reduce that to real world levels.
If this is the case then reducing the fraud rate from 1.8% to 0.35% in online payments (a reduction of 1.45%) would calculate to a savings of $29B for this industry.
Thus, if Facebook is able to be a major part of that reduction by using real identities then they will get much of this transaction business. If they are able to pull this off there is no stopping them...
Feel free to rip me apart, but there is some validity to may arguments :)
How many of your friends have had their facebook accounts stolen? For me, it's a few percent. "Oh look, another random acquaintance is stuck in Abu Dhabi and needs me to wire them some money"
Facebook security isn't nearly good enough to be handed my wallet. Actually it's not my wallet that's the problem, it's the wallet of everybody who uses "password" as a password.
Pretty sure most cases where people's accounts get hacked have nothing to do with the security of the website, except inasmuch as the site fails to provide an authenticator. Most "hacking" involves getting a computer virus or entering your password into a site that is not actually Facebook.
Facebook currently (or did) reset the password by having you identify the names of your friends using their pictures. I could see this as a way to authenticate a transaction.
Also not sure how secure that would be , how difficult would it be for a would be attacker to find out who was in the images?
I imagine a reverse image search could be fruitful.
The question is not if online payments is able to work, it is a question of if Facebook is able to crack the nut and reduce the fraud by using real identities. There are real problems as you have pointed out, but (and it is still a very big BUT) IF (and that is a very big IF) they are able to pull it off it will be a game changer for them.
Although it is controversial, banks seem to be starting to look at this.
Visa/Mastercard/Amex only have your transactions to go on so naturally they have spent billions building fraud tools around this data; that's not to say there are not a lot of other data points to build these tools.
They don't have to worry about stolen cards used in the high street, they don't have to do cash advances, they don't have pin pads skimming people's pins in stores.
I barely trust Paypal, you think I'm gonna trust FB with my CC details. You gotta be kidding.
There are a few steps FB must do before I'll trust them with anything other than bs about what games I'm playing now:
1. Convince me they take my security and privacy seriously.
2. Convince me they aren't selling my personal data (statistical or not) without my permission.
3. Allow me to export (backup) ALL my data to my drive easily.
4. All me to cancel my account (not that I would). And by cancel I mean remove all my data. No questions, no sales pitches to stay - just delete everything in my profile (and off their, FB, drives). FB says they do this, But there are plenty dead folk with active profiles. Despite families begging FB to delete them.
Until all this happens, FB gets nothing from me except an occasional post about my Skyrim adventures. Oh and commenting on the latest high school gossip (the latter being funny. I mean, there's a reason I left town 25 years ago and hardly kept in touch. But here we all are, FB friends.)
For most of them, paying with Facebook would just be easier than using something else / remembering more details etc etc. And they probably trust FB more than they trust other companies with far less visibility (although most them have used their CC without any thought or concern on a load of different websites).
FWIW and personally, I completely echo your thoughts - although I'm sure I'd end up giving my CC details to FB as soon as a website that I needed to buy from offered no other method to pay than the FB one.
I'll offer a counter anecdote. I've been impressed by their targeted ads more than once and clicked!
It has to get hyper-specific though. Not like gender-targeting, for me it read that I liked linguistics at one point in my profile and offered me an add to by a Wug shirt. I was super impressed and spent time in their online store.
I'm not sure it's a good idea to dismiss Facebook's chances at making money from ads yet. I've never clicked on a TV ad either, but stations make hundreds of billions of dollars from those ads every year. That industry took many decades to grow to that point though.
One big reason I trust Paypal for everyday transactions is because they make money off of each transaction directly, whether through direct fees or merchant fees. I can understand their business model, and the service has a certain simplicity.
The OP wants me to give financial data to a company where my data is their product, and who is always trying to prise more "openness" from me through a byzantine privacy UI and borderline surreptitious app installations? I'll pass, thanks.
Realistically speaking, 1 may never happen, 2 is already there (even if you're only liable for $50 from unauthorized cc transactions).
On the plus side, it's shorter than any of my other common passwords, so I'm not tempted to reuse it. I can say with certainty that my banking password is not in any DB on the tubes save my bank's.
FB has several billions of revenue from ads.
What makes you think you are not an insignificant outlier and that this move or any other doesn't concern you?
Just think people, if everybody did what I do on FB, would FB still exist? If the answer is no, then what you might or might not do, doesn't matter with regards to FB.
I think the answer is obvious: people prefer no ads. "Advertisement" is a dirty word. People want a free, ad-less product, despite the fact that it's economically unfeasible.
That's a problem. What happens when it becomes more widespread or easier to install things like adblock? What happens if a browser comes along that blocks Facebook cookies and ads by default, but still allows the basic functionality of FB? Don't say it can't happen. We're just getting to the point in society where having everything about us on someone's server is "normal". Wait until there's a disaster of some sort, a major security breach, and see how fast people change their habits. It can happen overnight.
Well, the answer might be obvious but might not mean much. For example a similar question would be "people prefer to pay for things, or get them for free?". I think the answer would be obvious here too.
>That's a problem. What happens when it becomes more widespread or easier to install things like adblock? What happens if a browser comes along that blocks Facebook cookies and ads by default, but still allows the basic functionality of FB? Don't say it can't happen.
Then the Ad industry will turn RIAA on the users, and will lobby the government for the disallowance of things like AdBlock ("our content is a package deal, you cannot see it, and thus benefit from it, without also seeing our ads").
And it might be successful too, because they will have the support of ALL other industries -- as ads are a crucial element of over-consumption on which they thrive. By leaving it to our "needs" and "wants" only, consumption would drop very low (IIRC, they have studied the effects of a prolonged (a week?) mass media strike during the seventies, and that was the result. That was short term though, long-term should be even worse).
I'm pretty sure that I could have been counted as a clicker in that study - I'm sure I accidentally clicked on an ad at least once when I was on facebook.
He is not talking about 50% click rate.
That is, he's not talking about 1 ad.
He says that 50% of FB users have clicked on ads at some point in their FB use.
Which might, or might not be true, but is not the same as "50% click rate".
FB has several billions of revenue from ads.
So far I haven't seen statistics or proof to indicate that advertising on Facebook is effective, although I've heard anecdotes to the contrary.
If advertising on Facebook proves to be ineffective, then they are in big trouble.
No support. You NEED to be able to reach a human being to clear up problems with credit cards.
I used google wallet to pay for a google apps yearly account. I also used a different card to pay for a couple games from the android market.
I dutifully checked all the options to make sure that the card I used to pay for those games could never ever be used to pay the renewal fee on the the apps account. Then one day I found that the wrong card had been charged for the apps renewal. I couldn't get ahold of anyone at google. I couldn't find any help online. I couldn't even find a phone number to call.
So I removed the cards from my wallet account. Cancelled the wallet account, and snarl "no" anytime google tries to get a credit card from me.
It works, it's easy enough, and I'm not sure I want it to be any easier.
However, 90% have access to a cell phone.
That was the basis for my failed micropayments project :)
It didn't fail because of a lack of demand, but because it's hard to tackle without significant resources. I still might resurrect a less ambitious version (being a middleman here in Uruguay).
I tend to always use Paypal or Google Checkout (sorry... 'Wallet'...) if given the option as I don't have to fish out my card and go through several screens of slow badly implemented web forms. Often I don't even have to enter my address whilst with a credit/debit card option I always do.
I guess you could say Android is only half a failure, because the constant catch-up game they're playing with Apple isn't going as badly as the constant catch-up game Google Plus (and Wave, and whatever they called the other one) plays with Facebook.
but seriously, business failure can happen for so many reasons, it doesn't really mean anything at all, unless of course you see a string of people failing at the same thing.
> pretty much everything Google does fails, except for search and email.
I can see that you're having some difficulty with google recently, but you can't actually believe this. What about Maps? Saying that maps is search because it has search built in means we can call GMail search too. What about Calendar?
> I guess you could say Android is only half a failure, because the constant catch-up game they're playing with Apple
This is where the snark starts to bother me. Let's acknowledge that Apple made a phone with a big glass touchscreen before Google. What, since then, has been a great innovation that Android has rushed to rip off?
And what about the ads? They were probably the first company that started making real money with them online.
Google Maps? When I want to find a place I use it, are there any other products that provide a good coverage of almost the whole world (and my little village)?
Also, Google Reader is the leader in its (admittedly small) space. And I'm pretty sure so is Google News. Oh, and Google Maps.
Yay! Unicode! Encoding! Fun!
I personally wouldn't want to use a system for payment that would only work for one brand.
If everyone's facebook account has CC details attached and a 1 click "pay now" button you are only 1 XSS vulnerability from fraud on an unprecedented scale.
The consumer doesn't give two flying fucks about any of this. This is a very important point.
Sure occasionally we get hit with a chargeback ($30 plus the charge amount) and sure we are powerless and they just added some arbitrary $7 month fee. But without this entire system I wouldn't be in business. I also operated a retail business years ago and accepted credit cards. It was a tremendous improvement over having to extend credit to a business owner and then collecting. The fees were well worth the trouble saved.
Ever had to buy stuff you didn't want to meet a minimum spend on cards? Cause over here many shops have a minimum of £5. And this is why.
Oh yes, the consumer cares, they just blame the shop owner instead of the cartels.
Many small businesses still do it, of course. What keeps people from reporting them is a mixture of not knowing the regulations and wanting the small business to stay afloat. But regardless, minimum payments actually are put in place by the business.
Minimums are now allowed on CC
True story here. Years ago in a retail business we had a $10 minimum for credit card purchases. A customer came in and bought something for like .50c. So the counter person did the charge for $10 and refunded them $9.50 in cash.
On the internet? No.
Now you know what we're all talking about and can start giving a flying fuck!
1. I don't have any pressing need to buy a product at such a low price point, and don't see any need to do this in the future.
2. My credit card works wonderfully, and if a retailer pisses me off, I'll phone them and it'll be reversed no questions asked.
3. Again, I (and most other consumers) already have a solution to buying something online that is almost perfect from my perspective. I have three of them in my wallet sitting with me at this very moment (actually, my wallet is a bit of a problem you could look into, especially in the summer).
I don't need paypal. I don't need pretend currency. I don't trust you to get anywhere near my actual bank account. I have several security options with my credit cards that I'm comfortable with.
I personally don't really care that it costs you x amount to take my credit card as a retailer. I've already factored in all your business costs into my evaluation of the price of your product. I also don't care that your employee demanded a raise last week, you need to buy a new computer or that rent is going up. These are your problems.
Again, do you understand that as a consumer, I view my credit cards as almost the ideal product to conduct business on the internet? You're trying to fix a problem that I just don't have by providing me with a solution that I just don't need.
So you're making two mistakes:
1. you != everyone else
2. 100 keypresses per transaction != 'ideal solution'
There's plenty of room for disruption in this market still. No-one's asking you to become one of those disruptors and we won't be taking away your credit card. You can keep it. Just like all those people who prefer cash to credit cards can keep their cash.
 Card number, SSN, expiration date, address, address line 2, City, County, Postcode. Maybe emailaddress, telephone number. Roughly 100 key presses to enter that lot
In order to do that FB would be looking at setting up massive infrastructure and essentially having a "banking division" that would get bogged down in regulations and bureaucracy.
Another advantage of credit cards is the credit part and it would seem a big stretch for FB to get into the lending game.
I think how well they can execute is only one part of the puzzle, since they are going to have to deal with the governments of multiple jurisdictions and big financial institutions and will basically be at their mercy.
I don't have a credit card. I know a lot of people who does but rarely uses them, debit cards feel more secure than credit cards against theft/fraud (and I'm not really sure if they are, I don't think so).
Visa is a credit card, however. In Europe, it's often tacked onto a regular debit card, but it's a separate thing not everyone has.
In europe certainly most people would seem to have a debit card. Besides I'm assuming at the backend the FB system would require you to enter a debit/credit card.
It would seem very unwise for FB to begin taking down everyone's bank account number as in the case of fraud with a card you can simply cancel the card and get a new number.
In Brazil, I do not know a single debit card that will allow international purchases, or that will be allowed in Paypal (even though Paypal has a local presence).
If I want to use my ccard online, away from home I need to have all kinds of codes remembered or written down, my normal bank card and this little device.
Using my ccard online has become quite the pain in the ass.
I should never have to type in a password, credit card number, or address if I don't want to... yet nobody except a few proprietary browser plugin vendors treats this as a problem worth solving.
Any tool that actually solves the problem, at least from my perspective, is going to have to give me the option to ignore whatever security conventions are built into the standard(s).
What might make more sense would be for FB to allow linking a paypal account with a FB account which could then allow users to login to Paypal via FB.
This would mean they could use paypal's more mature backend and let them deal with the messy stuff, while facebook could still potentially get all the fun of spying on your purchases.
If something does go wrong cc have very good insurance on them. The problem does seem to be a general resentment and paranoia of large companies. I dont think fb are going to cook up a half baked solution for anything like this, there's every likelihood they will do it as securely as the next especially with the strict laws and regulations around implementing such systems.
Everyone with a cc has probably used it in far less secure environments than fb could ever be, for example pubs, bars, resteraunts, independent shops etc.
If fb did a payment system it would annoy me briefly as another payment system I'd inevitably have to register with at some point but that's realistically as far as the problems would go.
It makes about as much sense as looking at facebook with their billion users and saying "You know what all these people have in common? They eat food!" And concluding that facebook should become a grocery store.
Payments is a non-trivial business to enter. Paypal has a nearly 15 year headstart, 100 million active accounts and does a tremendous amount of business in a great many countries, yet it is still only a $4 billion a year company.
Certainly it is a difficult market to enter, but a few billion dollars can buy you a lot of expertise, relationships, and time to build experience.
The reason Facebook should go into transactions is the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: "because that's where the money is".
Granted, a worldwide payment scheme is a Very Hard Problem To Solve for many nontechnical reasons... but this is exactly the kind of problem that large, ambitious companies with lots of street cred should try to attack. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
On the other hand, 2-3% of that $4 trillion is being consumed by the payment processing chain. Only a portion of it goes to Visa; the rest presumably go to banks and other layers of the service. Facebook potentially could, by virtue of being a trusted holder of identity worldwide, subsume all layers of this chain.
Look at it from this perspective: It currently "costs" 2-3% of a transaction to make a CC purchase. That's a huge dead weight loss. Is Facebook capable of using its brand, reach, and identity database to create a more efficient system?
Also, as I said, if facebook wants to step into the payments middle man role (which they could) they could maybe make as much as Visa does. If they completely reinvented themselves and turned into a global merchant bank AND managed to convince at least a tenth of all merchant account holders on Earth to switch to them THEN they could make some serious money. But the likelihood of that is precisely zero plus or minus a teeny, tiny margin of error.
In answer to your last question: no, no they are not.
My point is that Facebook is in a position to try building a new system, and the payoff is potentially enormous. Having a definition of identity that extends beyond a name and a cc# goes a long ways towards limiting fraud.
However, I tend to agree with you as far as Facebook's technical competence. This doesn't mean they shouldn't try.
As far as the chicken-and-egg problem goes, FB might do well to bootstrap a payments system in lesser-developed nations where Visa & Mastercard don't have such a lock on the market. A truly global payments system stands a good chance of eventually winning.
Facebook: ~ 1 billion customers
Visa: ~2 billion cards out there.
Facebook: ? merchants.
Visa: > 10 million merchants.
Facebook: potentially disruptive to the existing market
Visa: 50+ years experience with electronics payments processing, fraud detection, government relations and consumer credit marketing
Facebooks main competitive advantage is(was?) relatively cheap capital.
Edit: Corrected years, added reference
I sure can just whip out the CC, type in the 16 things, the special code, the expiration date, maybe a second screen the CC vendor presents to get my address or phone number for additional verification...
But I would never bother for a 3 or 5 cent article. And I firmly believe that's why there is no way to pay 3 or 5 cents for a view of something.
But there is a lot of cool stuff we could make or do with this. It should just be easy. Why doesn't it exist? There might be a big business answer that my fellows and myself don't get as we rant over coffee.
If your article is only worth 3 cents, just show it to me for free and put an ad on the page.
The question is, the NYTimes article linked on HN with 120 comments... would you pay 5cents to read it?
Consider the Facebook social reader apps like the Washington Post. If you click through from your Facebook news feed, you need to authorize the app to read the article. It's a one-button form, it's totally free, and you could revoke the app whenever you want. And yet, a huge percentage of people cancel out of it.
Would I pay 5 cents to read a NYTimes article from Hacker News? Maybe yes, maybe no, depends on the article. The point is that I would be forced into my "purchase mindset" every time.
Google Adsense fills that niche. People who run a website get money from teeny little clicks that their vistors do.
With credit cards we have a number of "hidden alternatives". We've got multiple processors, multiple card companies, etc. It's a number of layers there. With Facebook and Paypal... you're not able to pay when they say you're not able to pay (or be paid). They're not even controlled banks, so there's little you can do about some issues.
Think about all the problems when Google cut someone off and didn't provide any way of contacting them. Do you have a good way to contact Paypal, or Facebook now? (besides forms that result in canned responses) What are the incentives for changing it?
That aside, I not only assumed Facebook had thought of the idea of payments, they might even be working on it. It seems like an extension of the "Like" button they already have on so many sites.
Certainly Facebook is certainly thinking about new ways to make money, but they did disclose that ads are a risk factor in their S-1, with special concern for increased mobile device use, where they don't currently display ads.
- Upon logging in Facebook lets me know my favourite band is playing in a few weeks, tickets are $25 and I can purchase with one click.
- A new episode of Dexter comes out, Facebook knows I love dexter and thus notifies me and allows me to watch instantly in my browser for just $1.
- A games company (steam, humblebundle, blizzard, whoever) is running a sale on games similar to ones I've already liked on Facebook, I can view and purchase the bundle through Facebook.
All of this is taken care of in one click by my credit card being linked up to Facebook, just like iTunes. They can basically combine the best bits of iTunes + Amazon + All the data they have on everyone on Facebook and build the ultimate relevant shopping directory completely personalized to me.
Sure there are sites that already cater for this but it's about the convenience and instant gratification. 50% of their users log into Facebook daily and won't even bother checking out other sites for these things if they're already right there in front of them available with one click.
They don't even have to do it themselves initially, just hook into Amazon / Ticketmaster / iTunes data and this shouldn't take too long to develop.
This is where the future is and if Facebook does this there's no reason they can't be the most profitable web company in the world.
While it may be easy to build the customer side of the equation you've got to build a vast network of merchants willing to accept payment and that's hard work. Especially if you're trying to convince them to re-price in Facebook Credits?
Sure, you could charge 1% but people have added credits to their Facebook account at some point and it probably cost you more than 1% to allow them to do that. How do people buy credits right now? All those cost Facebook more than 1%, right? I buy $100 of credits, it costs F8 a couple of bucks, I then spend $100 of credits and they recoup $1 of it in merchant fees? Doesn't sound like a good business model.
Beyond the need to create a financial model that makes sense and then go out to find merchants and convince them there's a massive risk of merchant fraud.
Fraudulent merchant X signs up for a F8 Merchant Account. Fraudulent customers A, B, C buy something with stolen credit cards for $100 each. Everyone disappears after merchant X receives settlement. F8 is out of pocket to the tune of the original $300, another $300 in reversals to their bank and then $30-$60 of chargeback fees. If that happens enough then F8 might even have its merchant account revoked... though they're probably big enough to avoid that.
It's an excellent money laundering channel too and there's a lot of financial regulation to navigate around that.
I know that this stuff can be overcome but it is hard to do and would be a major piece of work. This type of thing nearly sank PayPal back in the day.
Perhaps I'm missing the point here though?
As far as I know, it did not really lift off, but this could be because Facebook overtook Hyves as the most popular social network shortly afterwards.
You put an ad on Facebook. People click on it an buy with FB-pay. You then get a ton of marketing data to better aim your ads. Tine of purchase, day, credit card type, marital status (confirmed versus Fb status), income information, billing address, etc.
All in one convenient place. How much would businesses pay for that? A lot. Evidence? Call your local mailing list broker and ask for a quote.
Of course, this will set off what I call "the privacy wars". Where the government will step in after some single mother of three is scammed and the story is picked up by some mommy-blogger who then sells the story to the huffington post, who then sells the article to CNN, who then puts it on TV. Then FOX makes a deal out of it, republicans notice, and make some lobbyist-impregnated bill that includes the "single-mommy law for online privacy".
But, we've had this coming for a while.
This is partly because of the fraud risk, partly because of VISA and MasterCard's duopoly. Facebook is pretty well situated to deal with both IMO.
And it's not just online payments: The current state-of-the-art in mobile-phone POS payments ("It's exactly like a credit-card! Except it's in your phone!") seems like a dead-end to me. Facebook is in a unique position to move into this area.
Do you really think Facebook doesn't have reams of data and analysis on this exact idea? I bet they've been analyzing the crap out of it for years and for whatever very good reason they have they haven't done it yet.
Now, I predict the company who will make a trillion on payments is Apple. They're set up quite nicely to tell the credit card companies to take a hike.
And then Facebook would know everything I buy.
What I would expect to see however is discounts offered if you use FB payments and allow your purchases to be automatically shared with your friends.
allow your purchases to be automatically shared with your friends.
You would get something like "10% off for you and 5% off for all of your friends, if you allow us to repost on your wall"
The problem of course becomes spam, if FB ever gets to such a poor signal/noise ratio then people will simply stop using it.
Facebook has scared off a lot of the "moms" out there by their bad bad bad privacy history. Do you really want to pay for things using their service?
They probably should already.
I think a sufficiently streamlined phone app and pitch could net quite a few. Say, demonstrating the feature by showing someone making an Amazon purchase and then getting a phone notification to approve the charge and approving with a simple PIN entry.
 Said notification ideally showing merchant, amount, scan location, warnings if it's a card not present transaction, etc.
The real problem is regulation. It is so, so much easier to sell ads than to navigate the international financial markets.
Which keeps them from using that hypothetical service, because they don't want to risk losing the account over a transaction that went wrong.
Or maybe not. Who knows?
It would definitely be the next step in user lock-in, but you'd start competing with banks and everyone else who offers a way to pay.
Now, I wouldn't complain if they bought some "bypass the credit card companies" service like Dwolla...
I have both an American Express and a Visa (because Amex just isn't accepted some places). The customer service has been nothing but amazing, even when dealing fraudulent charges. And the cards are accepted everywhere.
What I'm saying is, I don't feel any need whatsoever to bypass my credit card company to pass my information off to a start up.
However, it can become some kind of market place. It already knows user locality, it already has people flocking to it. It already has big brand stores sharing discounts and coupons to consumers.
All it needs to do is finish the last mile and allow those brands to actually have a "Facebook-only Sale", for example.
Also, it can become a great "local market place", and can help local businesses to sell to local customers.
TLDR: not just ads, and not necessarily a payment gateway, but a niche market place could be it.
1) I don't trust Facebook to transact payments quickly or safely.
2) I don't want Facebook to take my money. I'm guessing Facebook would capitalize on this by exacting a higher rate than other options. Because they can. I want the max amount of money to go to the creators of a product, not to Facebook.
3) As it says, Facebook already knows everything about people. Should they really have access to our credit cards as well?
They could first allow people to exchange any amount of money with friends for free, add it to their mobile app so that everyone has it anytime. Other apps are doing that, and that's very useful.
And they should buy Stripe, bind everything together, displace amex, visa and mastercard.
Or may be that's the plan, but it's best to be silent ?
They have a good place to do that, but I doubt that they'll go that way.
But Steve isn't there, and Apple moves might be unexpected.
Nerds and Geeks never trust facebook, but their moms and sisters do !
Not really viable on the desktop, but certainly on phones.
There's no reason that I can think of why I can't be identified by my own mobile network and either charged at the end of the month or via my airtime.
For example, a lot of brands and agencies register many,many pages on facebook, and even post content there. And Britney Spears is not really on Facebook, she just has someone have post stuff for her.
I'm sure Facebook is huge. But if they say a billion, it is probably closer to 500m.
Not really. You just need different kind of priorities. For example Diaspora challenges Facebook on the grounds where FB is the weakest - privacy. Facebook can't compete on privacy no matter how hard they try (and they simply won't even try since the whole FB is built on selling off privacy).
= Inital Idea =
You're perpetually logged into a social network, why not pair up a payment method and leverage that connection. Always be connected to a payment method/global checkout - authorised by a 4 digit pin.
There's an array of pro's as cons for this.
= Issues for Facebook (and Twitter) =
The hurdles to get setup as a Payment Service Provider, and have the capability to preform cross-border, cross-country transactions, dealing with multiple currencies, as well as boarding merchants outside of the US, is a complete bitch.
It would be completely out of Facebook's internal focus to build and maintain this - outsourcing/partnering is a different story.
= Facebook's Cut =
Facebook takes a 1/3 cut from developers for FB Credits. They can't take a 1/3 cut from credit card processing.
They'll realistically take 2.75 - 3.5% and that would just piss off their developers who are being charged a 1/3, unless FB reduce their 1/3 cut - which I doubt they'd do.
Facebook would (probably) make more cash using FB Credits than processing credit cards - The margins are rediculously low with card processing (varies on card type) - It's game of volume.
Unless you're PayPal who charge you 2/3% for sending money between PayPal accounts. When all they're doing is ACH transfers between "dynamic bank accounts" they've setup, which costs them under 5 cents to preform.
= The trust factor = with Facebook (Guy/Girl's in Social Commerce take notice here).
Consumer's/Users whatever you want to call them simply would not trust Facebook with their super sensitive data (Credit Card & Billing Information). They don't have the best reputation when it comes to users data.
They might experience some success and sign up a few tech savy users - but ultimately - even if they sort out all of the technical & logistical issues they will constantly face this one.
This is why social commerce isn't full circle, or shouldnt be. When was the last time you entered your credit card details into a Facebook app? would you?
Social Commerce is really the discovery of products, but when it comes to facilitating the transaction, consumers need to be out of the ecosystem where "public" data is flowing, their friends are talking to them, or irrelevant social data is distracting them.
Consumers feel incredibily uncomfortable entering sensetive data into a platform which they use with the mindset of "sharing".
Unless of course it could be masked under a "Pay by Facebook" option which doesnt require the user to type in and sesntive information - ha.
Those are just my thoughts, and of course you have risk, disputes, charge backs, being the ultimate target for russian hackers etc.
I could be completly wrong, but I think a third party needs to step in here.
Facebook and a Dwolla/GoCardless partnership - now that would be intresting - you can fake a credit card but you cant fake a bank account.
VISA: $3.36 billion profit | DFS: $2.2 billion profit | AXP: $4.9 billion profit | MA: $1.9 billion profit
That's Visa, Discover, American Express, and MasterCard.
That's a $12.4 billion profit, if you take every aspect of all their businesses away from them across the board and basically acquire a complete monopoly in transactions. Their businesses go far beyond processing of course, so you'd really need to not only take over all transaction processing but then double the business.
Facebook processing payments is maybe a billion profit opportunity for them. Not chump change, but very far away from $10 billion.
Visa has a $80 billion market cap, $9b in sales, and $3.6b in profit with a mere 7,500 employees. One of the best ratios of any major company. In fact, it's better than Facebook's current employee to sales ratio (and it's worth pointing out that they're nearly at a $10b sales run rate, and $4b in annual profit).
Visa has around a 40% net margin, that's beyond extraordinary. There's almost zero chance Facebook can be any less bloated than what Visa is already doing.
Discover also has a stellar ratio, 11k employees to $8.5 billion in sales.
Ditto MasterCard, with 6,700 employees and $6.7b in sales.
I think Facebook could tack on a payments business with relatively little additional hiring or resources, and maintain far higher than 40% margins. Whether they would try to be that efficient or not is another question.
Most tech companies don't bother with being particularly efficient. Google could have stuck to their search engine and advertising and had > 80% margins if they wanted to.
Facebook has already shown they're not even as efficient as Visa; despite being so young they're more bloated than Visa already. And that lends credence to the notion that they wouldn't be any better at payment processing than a company that has specialized in that for a very long time and is the best in the world at it.
Certainly a company like Microsoft could have just published Windows and had 90% margins. But no mega company ever does that, so it's not a realistic scenario. They don't do that because they're seeking growth, which is something shareholders always want to see.
Companies that had extremely lucrative margins and dominant positions, that didn't sit still: Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Samsung, Nintendo, Sony, Google, and on and on.
I've not aware of any major tech company that has ever just created one extraordinarily profitable product, and then did nothing else but collect their 85% net margin. Facebook isn't likely going to be the first.