Over the next month, Facebook is expected to roll-out a mobile payment system that will allow users to make purchases with just their Facebook login on partnering e-commerce mobile apps.
According to a report from AllThingsD, the first partner using the new system will be dude-centric online clothier JackThreads. The payment system would utilize stored credit cards that Facebook already has in its system, which users have been using within the site forincreased promotion, in-game purchases, and gifts.
If pushed beyond the limited test phase, the new payment system would place Facebook squarely in competition with established players like PayPal, any number of new startups in the space, and perhaps eventually even the credit card networks themselves.
The new payment initiative follows an announcement in early June when Facebook announced that it would phase out its Credits system of payments for all games. The social network aims to convert to local currencies by September 12, instead of using what was basically a virtual incarnation of amusement park "fun bucks."
The move to real money, which was announced in 2012, was set in place to give more flexibility to developers from around the world dealing with international currencies. However, Facebook may have had grander plans to move into mobile payments across the board--and with good reason.
The mobile payments game is a skyrocketing business that is expected to hit $1 trillion (that's with a "tr") by 2015. Facebook would certainly like to get a piece of that action, but these types of mobile payments may also provide Zuckerberg & Co with something nearly as enticing--lots of data. The online payments would add another level of data that Facebook could use for its ballooning graph search function, which the company hopes will make its service as valuable (and ubiquitous) to consumers as a Google search. If you click through to the Facebook gifts page, you can already find a list of which of your friends is be-gifting who.
Facebook has yet to make an official announcement on the initiative, and we have reached out to JackThreads for comment; we'll update you with any additional details.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.