Business Today

Tap and Transfer

As Facebook Messenger's payment service goes live in the US, and Ping Pay takes off in India, it's clear that social networks will play a role in our finances.
twitter-logo Chitra Narayanan        Print Edition: August 16, 2015
Tap and Transfer
Illustration: Raj Verma

Money has been changing hands through mobile phones for a while now. Just tap on the screen and watch it float on to your friend or family's account. Now add yet another channel, with Facebook Messenger's payment service going live in the US.

On July 1, the social media giant rolled out its much-promised peer to payment service over Messenger. All that users have to do is link up a debit card within the app's setting, tap on the $icon, key in the amount to be sent and away it goes to a receiver's account. Once the receiver clicks on 'accept payment', the money gets transferred to her bank account.

Illustration: Ajay Thakuri
Closer home, in May, Axis Bank launched Ping Pay, a multi-social payment application that one can use to send or ask money via WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, email or SMS. Over Ping Pay, cash transfers are no cold business-like transactions as users can send quirky messages, video, audio and pictures even as they send money. Significantly, Ping Pay is open to non-Axis Bank customers as well - Android and Apple device users can download the app. And unlike FB Messenger where it takes three days for the money to get into the recipient's bank, Ping Pay claims transfers are instant.

The world of peer-to-peer payment apps is getting exciting with social media entering the fray. Inevitable, in a way.

Last fortnight as Singapore-based fintech company Fastacash, the tech provider for Axis Bank's Ping Pay received $15 million in series B funding, its chairman and CEO Vince Tallent remarked, " If users can send photos to each other, why shouldn't they be able to send money. We want to take transactions to where people live and breathe, and that's social networks on their mobiles."

That's the exact philosophy - "be where the customer is" - that prompted Axis Bank to roll out Ping Pay, the first to launch a multi-social payment app. Now, others like ICICI Bank and HDFC bank are getting into the act too through digital wallets like Pockets and PayZapp.

But are people open to transacting over social forums? Rajiv Anand, Group Executive & Head, Retail Banking, Axis Bank, says Ping Pay already has one lakh downloads, and though these are initial days, "early trends show an overwhelming majority of transfers are using the social connect in general and WhatsApp in particular".

Security, of course, is the biggest concern of those still hesitating to take the plunge into social money transfer. But both Facebook and Ping Pay have taken pains to add layers of security. While Facebook says its service is contained in a secure, encrypted environment and monitored by anti-fraud experts, Anand points out how a two-step authentication process ensures security of the Ping Pay app.

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