Facebook has worked long and hard to become the definitive platform for businesses reaching out to and interacting with customers on the web and mobile, with a robust advertising platform, full-featured business Pages, detailed analytics and more. But despite a few past experiments that didn’t go far, Facebook has not generally been part of the monetary transactions that occur within those brand-consumer relationships.
The social network is taking another step into that arena by testing a new mobile payments platform with a closely-tied partner, Thrillist’s JackThreads. This new feature would allow consumers to log in to an e-commerce site with their Facebook profiles and pay with credit card information stored with Facebook.
JackThreads is a flash sale site for young males, and as All Things D notes, it’s a good match for Facebook’s test because of its audience’s interest in video games. Many gamers have handed over their credit card data to Facebook already for the microtransactions-based games built on its platform — though young male core gamers aren’t always the same people as those who play Facebook’s social games, which have a very different flavor.
Let’s consider what this means for Facebook, and for you and your brand operating on Facebook. For Facebook, the appeal here is, as always, data. That includes credit card numbers, but even more lucratively, it means Facebook could track consumers’ buying histories. That could increase the value it offers businesses as potential advertisers; data about buying history can be used to algorithmically guess at what a consumer is interested in or likely to buy in the future, just like the data points Facebook already uses.
That means that if this payments feature takes off, you could have even more targeting options when purchasing Facebook Ads in the future. It also means that, eventually, you might be able to use Facebook’s platform as the payments system for your own website, just like you might use PayPal today. That said, both Facebook and PayPal were quick to assure All Things D that their relationship remains close and they’re not looking to become competitors.
These possibilities are just that though — possibilities. Facebook is testing the feature now, but as with Facebook Credits, it might not pan out the way folks hope. If it does, more options are hard to complain about if you’re a business making good use of the platform.
[Image credit: Maria Elena]
Samuel Axon: Samuel is the Editorial Director supervising Sprout Social's editorial and web content projects. He has years of experience in blogging and social media, having previously worked as an editor at social media and technology news sites Mashable and Engadget. He also helped build the white label web content management system Crowd Fusion from the ground up.