A payments feature in Facebook Messenger has been expected since at least last summer. In June, Facebook hired PayPal President David Marcus to run its messaging unit.
The following month, the company reported its earnings for the second quarter, and on the conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicated that we'd be able to make payments with Messenger eventually. Here's what he said during the Q&A portion of the call (via Business Insider):
Messenger will have — over time there will be some overlap between that and payments. But I guess what I’m just trying to say is two things. One is, the payments piece will be a part of what will help drive the overall success and help people share with each other and interact with businesses. But we’re really focused on the interactions overall, rather than the mechanism and David shares that view.
And the second thing is just that there’s so much ground work that we need to do in order to make it so that people are communicating with businesses and public figures and entities in these other apps that we’re building, which is part of the business ecosystem. And I really can’t underscore that enough that we have a lot of work to do and we could take the cheap and easy approach and just try to put ads in or do payments and make some money in the short term. But we’re not going to do that. So to the extent that any of your models or anything reflects that we might be doing that, I would strongly encourage you here to adjust that, because we’re not going to and we’re going to take time to do this in the way that we think that’s going to be right over multiple years.
In October, screenshots of of a payments feature taken using a developer tool emerged:
— The Strand (@TheStrandBlog) October 6, 2014
According to TechCrunch, all Facebook had to do was turn the feature on.
It doesn't sound like such a feature will be making its way to the app for people to actually use anytime soon. TheNextWeb spoke with Marcus, who it says "Maintains that there's no immediate plans to integrate payments into the platform." From the report:
“For Facebook it doesn’t make sense to build a payments business, it makes sense to remove friction from payments experiences so that advertisers – and people – can actually get more of what they want,” he said. “Fixing payments across all Facebook properties from an experience standpoint and really making sure it’s frictionless is really important.”
In short, if (more likely, ‘when’) it integrates payments, it’ll partner to do so.
It goes on to say that Marcus confirmed that Facebook has no immediate plans to monetize Messenger.
As you're probably aware, Facebook recently forced users to download the standalone Messenger app if they wanted to use the messaging feature on their mobile devices. Zuckerberg gave the lame reason that tapping a tab from the main Facebook app was too hard. Common sense suggested it was part of "laying the groundwork" for monetization.
In November, Facebook boasted that it had over 500 million people using Messenger each month.