Facebook’s New Initiative Promises to Make Cross-Platform Mobile Payments Real | Epicenter | Wired.com
At the Mobile World Congress on Monday, Facebook announced several new initiatives to battle fragmentation on the mobile web. The most intriguing may be a partnership with global wireless carriers — including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the U.S. — to streamline mobile purchases for webapps using Facebook’s login and payment platforms.
In this agreement, Facebook would be the intermediary between its web developer and wireless carrier partners. Customers purchasing goods through web apps equipped with Facebook’s Pay Dialog wouldn’t have to prepurchase Facebook credits; instead, they’d be billed by their wireless providers. Developers would deal with Facebook; Facebook would deal with the carriers — with its Payments and Credits platform translating between the two on the transaction.
As a Facebook spokesperson told Wired, right now this program is “more vision than reality”; it hasn’t been fully implemented, and many of the details still have to be worked out between all the partners in the coming months.
The vision, though, is spelled out in a blog post by Facebook Director of Developer Relations Doug Purdy: to “minimize the number of steps needed to complete a transaction in mobile web apps, which will make it easier for hundreds of millions of people worldwide to purchase apps on their device via operator billing.” Besides the Big Three carriers in the U.S., announced partners include Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, Vodafone, KDDI, and Softbank Mobile.
The carrier payment partnerships also part of a broader effort by Facebook to make mobile app development easier (and make partnership with Facebook more appealing to developers):
Facebook is extending its social app discovery feature to include native Android apps in addition to iOS and web apps;
It’s joining the W3C’s Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group, “to help accelerate the improvement and standardization of mobile browsers”;
It’s immediately contributing a cross-platform mobile web test suite called Ringmark.
The payments initiative, however, is the most ambitious and has the most potential to turn into a serious revenue stream for Facebook and its partners.