Facebook: New Pilot Not a PayPal Competitor

Aug. 19, 2013

The payments world took notice recently of a report indicating Facebook was testing a payments service that would put it in direct competition with PayPal. The technology publication All Things D cited “sources familiar with the company’s plans” who said the product would allow any shopper who has previously provided Facebook with their credit-card details to make purchases on partnering e-commerce mobile apps without entering billing information. It seems the report, which was widely cited by other publications last Thursday and Friday, might have been premature.

On Friday, Facebook cleared up the matter with a statement that denied its new service would be competitive to PayPal. Under the new service, Facebook would not process payments, but simply use payment information already stored in the cloud to automatically fill in the payment fields in a mobile app when making a purchase. Whatever payment provider the individual app uses is the one that processes the payment.

Facebook’s statement, in full, read:

“We are working on a very small test that lets people populate their payment information already on file with Facebook into the checkout form of a mobile phone app when they are making a purchase. The app then processes and completes the payment. The test makes it easier and faster for people to make a purchase in a mobile app by simply pre-populating your payment information.  It will be a very small test with 1-2 partners.

We continue to have a great relationship with PayPal, and this product is simply to test how we can help our app partners provide a more simple commerce experience. This test does not involve moving the payment processing away from an app’s current payments provider, such as PayPal.”