A payment mechanism for Facebook Messenger appears to be getting closer.
On Saturday, Stanford University computer science student Audrew Aude tweeted that he had found and played with a payment feature in Facebook Messenger, which he dug out with the developer tool Cycript.
Security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski posted last month that he found payments-related code in Messenger, and Aude said that discovery prompted him to look further.
In June, Facebook hired ex-president of PayPal David Marcus to take the reins of Facebook Messenger, and that hiring ramped up speculation that a payment feature was coming to the app.
CEO Mark Zuckenberg mentioned on an earnings call during the summer that Facebook would be implementing some form of ecommerce in its Messenger mobile messaging app, but his comments suggested the launch was “years” away because the company wanted to get it right.
Aude reported on Twitter that, “with FB messenger, you attach money just like you attach a photo or a location. You don’t even have to link a bank account.”
Although PayPal is apparently mentioned in the code, Aude said he didn’t see a PayPal option when he tried it out. Only debit cards can be used in the present incarnation, he said — no credit cards or bank accounts — and there are only person-to-person transactions. Payment between multiple participants is mentioned in a note as a later option, Aude said.
The transaction is made via an ACH electronic transfer to the checking account of the recipient, although it’s not yet clear how the recipient’s bank account is entered. Unlike so many other things you do on Facebook, Aude said the payment transaction is kept private from your friends.
Facebook has not commented on the report.