In August, Facebook will make its Facebook Pay payment service available for the first time outside of its own platforms. Facebook’s announcement describes the move as providing a seamless, mobile-friendly payment experience for businesses that choose to use it, noting that Facebook users are already using the service to send money and purchase items in. Facebook stores and the Facebook market.
There’s not a lot of meat in Facebook’s ad, which mostly includes feel-good points that apply to the entire online financial industry, not just Facebook Pay, for example, usage encrypted storage system and the fact that companies accepting Facebook Pay do not need to manage customer card or bank account numbers. While these features look good at first glance, they are both de rigueur, not innovations – the majority of online stores are already using third-party payment processors that handle credit card and bank account numbers for them.
Facebook is committed to ensuring that Pay users’ credit card and bank account information is not used to “personalize their experience” or target advertisements. The company also says that payments and purchases will not be shared with a user’s friends or on a user’s profile or feed. It should be noted, however, that these are explicitly separate promises — Facebook is not promising that payments and purchases will not be used for “personalization” or ad targeting purposes.
Checking the blog post on Facebook Pay privacy issues makes this last point pretty clear:
As with our other products, the actions you take with Facebook Pay may be used for purposes such as providing you with more relevant content and advertising, providing customer support, and promoting security and integrity (for example, to investigate on violations of our payment policies). For example, if you buy a baseball glove from Facebook Marketplace, you might see an advertisement for a baseball bat. On the bright side, at least the direct email marketing generated by the Facebook Pay activity is opt-in, not opt-out; the same blog post states that “businesses and non-profit organizations will only be permitted to use [your email address] for marketing purposes if you register.
Facebook Pay’s first steps outside of the Facebook ecosystem will only be in Shopify stores, but the service is expected to expand to more shopping platforms and payment processors over time.