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Facebook Pay lets you buy goods and send money inside Facebook's apps

Whether or not people trust Facebook with payments is another matter.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 12, 2019
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Libra isn't Facebook's only big leap into the payment world. The social media giant has unveiled Facebook Pay, its bid at simplifying both purchases and money transfers. Once you've set a payment method, it's theoretically quick and easy to buy tickets, shop on Marketplace, contribute to fundraisers or cover your share of last night's pizza. You can set it up on an app-by-app basis, but Facebook also lets you set it up across apps -- a one-time setup could make it useful across Facebook's ecosystem. The core app and Messenger will support Pay in the US this week, while Instagram, WhatsApp and more countries are in the pipeline.

Facebook is unsurprisingly aware of the potential security and privacy issues, although its statements won't be completely reassurance. You can require either a PIN code or biometrics for purchases, while all data is both encrypted and monitored for fraud. Your shopping history won't be shared outside of the app, and bank and card account numbers won't be used to personalize the experience. However, Facebook Pay purchases can influence ads -- be warned if you hate seeing pitches for products just because you once bought something vaguely related.

This will be separate from the Calibra wallet used to handle Libra cryptocurrency, Facebook added.

This isn't a radical departure if you're used to services like Venmo or Apple Pay. The difference, of course, is convenience within Facebook's ecosystem. The question is whether or not people will trust the option. Regulators still have doubts about Facebook's privacy policies, including for financial services like Libra. Facebook Pay doesn't appear to have glaring issues on the surface, but it won't reassure officials. There's also the matter of public trust. Many people are already wary of feeding sensitive data to Facebook, and payment info is some of the most sensitive info you can get.

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