As part of its company strategy, Facebook’s Instagram has rolled-out a new native payment feature for its users. You will now be able to register a credit or debit card and make payments within the social media platform after setting up a security PIN.
Initially you will only be able to use the feature at a number of limited businesses such as restaurants and salons but, in the future, it will expand to include others such as movie tickets.
The roll-out is seen as part of Facebook’s ongoing strategy to bring e-commerce to its social media platforms. And it follows on from Facebook allowing businesses to offer their services on its social media platforms, an example being chatbots for businesses on Messenger, the introduction of Marketplace on Facebook and WhatsApp for Business.
The move towards payments on Instagram is seen as exploiting its huge financial potential, particularly after Instagram boasted it had more than a million advertisers on its platform.
The news also comes as Instagram expands its Shopping on Instagram feature to eight more countries.
The feature now allows links to be put under photos. Something that had not been available before. This means businesses will be able to show shoppable photos to Instagram users other than their own followers.
Instagram has grown enormously since Facebook bought it in 2012. With more than 500 million daily active users it has become one of the most popular image and video sharing platforms.
It has also been the one most marketable for ads and sponsored content and it was only a matter of time before Facebook sought to monetise it. Letting businesses sell their products or services directly on Instagram is simply the next step.
In 2016 Instagram rolled-out shoppable tags on photos with 20 retail brands. And there is also WhatsApp Business, a separate app for small businesses to interact with their customers.
While it is inevitable that Facebook will seek to exploit their platforms for monetary gains, many commentators wonder what it will mean for our data privacy.
A case in point is the future of WhatsApp. Facebook has, until now, been unable to monetise WhatsApp because Jan Koum, the co-founder of the social media platform fought tooth and nail against any forms of ads or surveillance.
But Mr Koum has now left WhatsApp, along with leaving Facebook’s board of advisors. So, it seems that some time in the near future we will see some major monetary exploitable changes in WhatsApp.
Image: Nick Youngson