Facebook's increasingly popular messaging platform has had a payments feature for months. But it hasn't been available to everyone in the US -- until now.
Facebook on Tuesday announced that its Messenger payments service is available to all users across the US. Facebook Messenger's payments platform was previously only available in select pockets in the US, including New York City. The announcement on Tuesday means anyone who is in the US and logs onto the service will be able to send and receive cash.
Facebook Messenger is a mobile- and online-chatting service that allows users to send chats between friends. Facebook announced in June that, up from 600 million in March and 500 million in November. Facebook hasn't said how many of those users are in the US.
was and started testing in March. The service allows the app's more than 700 million users to connect a MasterCard or Visa debit card to their accounts. Once complete, users can simply click on an icon within the app and send a cash amount to their friends. The transfer is immediate and travels from one user's checking account to the other user's account.
The payments platform finds itself in a crowded space filled with major companies, like PayPal, which has long allowed users to send digital payments to others. Mobile-payment company Square partnered with photo-sharing company Snapchat in November to launch Snapcash, another peer-to-peer digital-payment platform.
Several other companies, including Apple, Samsung, and Google, also offer payment services.
Central to those efforts is an attempt on the part of all of the companies to take a significant slice of what promises to be a massive mobile-payment market in the coming years. By next year, alone, mobile payments in the US are set to grow to $27.5 billion in the US, up from $3.5 billion in 2014, according to research firm eMarketer. The company also said that mobile-payment users in the US will jump to 36.2 million.
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman has acknowledged the increasing importance of digital payments in the market,in May that the space is in "possibly the greatest period of change and transformation in the history of money and financial services."
Facebook, along with a a slew of other companies, obviously sees that opportunity. The company has not said how many users have so far used its platform and whether it will launch internationally at some point in the future. For now, Facebook's David Marcus said in a statement, he just wants users to "try it and let us know how we can make (it) even better for you."
Facebook declined to comment on the US launch.