Facebook takes Marcus, takes on Google, Apple and who knows what

When we recently noted that Facebook was into payments – and Google was into everything – we did not realise that we were looking at the tip of an iceberg.

As Anita Karve discussed yesterday, Amazon is now into subscription payments and now we read – with interest – that Facebook has hired PayPal boss David Marcus. Apparently to build and run a messaging business.

Messaging, eh?

So, the man who built PayPal into a money transfer business that processes nine million payments a day and processed $27 billion mobile payments last year has been headhunted by Facebook to build a messaging business.

We here at Cynical Central, the office formerly known as BillingViews are less than convinced.

Facebook has clearly built the basis of a global money transfer business. They have money transfer – not banking – licenses in several jurisdictions. They have a stagnant and ageing customer base. They are not very strong in some emerging economies. Economies where partnerships with operators include zero rated access to Facebook. 

Oh, and we know, of course, that those banking customers who are aged between 18 and 34 want mobile access when managing their money.

And Mr Marcus now has the brief to build a messaging business? Sure.

Let the battle begin. With so many mobile payments solutions now on the market, and with the solutions built by committee not showing much promise, it makes perfect sense for big but agile companies to get into the game.

The big four.

Google is in it, Amazon is in it, now Facebook is in money transfers, it is clear that money is where the battle lies. 

The question then becomes what will Apple do? For many years, pundits have wondered why Apple did not put NFC into their devices. The reason is now obvious. They do not see NFC as a payments play – clever people don’t.

But with these four giants and their giant and, to a large extent loyal, customer bases, the money transfer, payments and m-commerce worlds are now up for grabs. 

And loyalty is key. We have said on several occasions that if operators can win the trust of their customers through loyalty they will win. Now, perhaps, the world has changed again, and in few years time we will pay our bills through Google and transfer money home via our mobile Facebook app.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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