Facebook Messenger now enables group payments – WhatsApp prepares for digital payments in India

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Facebook has just expanded its payments feature to support groups in the Messenger app. This should come in handy when friends or families want to split the cost of a present or a dinner bill for example. Payments in Messenger were introduced in 2015 and now let users pay individuals or members in a group.

The feature also allows for payments to be requested. Notes can be added to explain what the money is for and Facebook updates the group chat to show as soon as someone pays.

The Facebook payments feature is free to use and there’s no password associated with it.

If this sounds familiar then that’s because Chinese messaging app competitor WeChat has long had great success with its own payments features. Snapchat also already support in-app payments.

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However, Facebook appears to have lagged behind somewhat. The potential to reach millions of users is certainly there and payments data could offer value for eCommerce retailers or app publishers. It appears the social network may not have fully endorsed its payments functionalities just yet. Payments in Messenger still feels like a feature that’s offered hidden among those other “+” button tools.

That may well change in the future and the company says it has already installed a team to monitor and control payments to ensure users can safely transact their cash and aren’t becoming a target of fraud.

Whilst Messenger may slowly update to include expanded payment features a la WeChat, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is preparing to launch digital payments in India this month. The messaging app currently has 200 million users in India where Alibaba’s Paytm dominates the digital payments market.

WhatsApp said in a job advertisements on its blog that it wanted to “contribute more to India’s vision for digital commerce” by launching its own payments service. Though the company declined to comment on the initiative, this may be the beginning of a larger venture into digital payments for WhatsApp.

India is seeing some strong support for digital payments backed by government efforts to ban high-value currency notes late last year. According to a source close to the matter, the Financial Times proposed that WhatsApp may even become part of a governmental flagship programme – the Unified Payments Service which supports mobile payment transactions.