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Facebook forms financial group to focus on payments

It'll oversee Facebook Pay, Whatsapp Pay and other commerce projects
Nicole Lee, @nicole
August 10, 2020
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A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it is testing a service that will allow users of its Messenger app to hail Uber rides directly from the app, without leaving a conversation or downloading the ride-hailing app.  .  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Facebook has decided to delve deeper into commerce with the creation of a new group focused on payments. According to Bloomberg, it’s called F2 internally (short for Facebook Financial), and is meant to take care of all payments-related projects including Facebook Pay, the company’s own e-commerce system. The leader of the group is David Marcus, who’s also the co-creator of Facebook’s much-maligned Libra cryptocurrency project.

The group is said to house other Facebook commerce projects such as Novi (formerly known as Calibra), a digital wallet designed for Libra, as well as WhatsApp Pay, which went live a few months ago in Brazil. The idea here, according to Bloomberg, is to unify payments on the company’s various platforms such as Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp under one roof.

The company believes that enabling such purchases makes advertising more valuable. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he’s quite keen on growing in-app transactions. “As payments grow across Messenger and WhatsApp, and as we’re able to roll that out in more places, I think that will only grow as a trend,” he said in a recent earnings call. 

Though Libra hasn’t quite taken off as a global cryptocurrency the way the company had hoped, the unification of all the company’s disparate payment systems under one roof makes sense. Facebook Pay is already a good example of this; simply link it with your credit card or PayPal account, and you can use it to exchange funds on Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. 

Rolling out payment systems across different countries does require getting the approval from regulators, which Marcus has had experience with during his time with Libra. Marcus told Bloomberg that it’s helpful to have this expertise in financial services regulation in his new role. “In the financial services world, it’s very different than traditional technology companies that are not regulated,” he told the outlet. 

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