As published here: https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/13/facebooks-on-the-money-in-asia/
What if“like” becomes the new “buy?”
This is a future that Facebook is has every intention of making a reality. The Next Web and TechCrunch just broke the news that Facebook is testing social purchasing on their Pages platform in Asia. This could, and likely will, have some pretty interesting implications on the future of Facebook and e-commerce here in the U.S.
If you’re not someone who’s constantly immersed in the goings-on of the greater social media ecosystem, you might not know that in 2015, Facebook made some key changes to their platform. July of that year saw the advent of a money sending capability within Messenger, with some help from the founder of PayPal. Think Venmo, but on Facebook (you know what Venmo is, right?). Then, they added a buy button for businesses using ads on Facebook. Long story short, Facebook wants to give you fewer reasons to leave their platform and more reasons to conduct transactions there. As of now, we’re (in the U.S.) collectively spending almost an hour on the social network. Zuck clearly wants to raise that figure.
That Facebook is testing this function in Southeast Asia is telling, if only because the region has skipped some of the technological milestones in the growth of their infrastructure that America has gone through. Lack of terrestrial phone lines mean dial-up internet did not have the foothold it had here. Therefore, they were ready to jump right into DSL, broadband, and now, Wi-Fi. One result of this rapid preponderance of their Internet capability: P2P micro transactions started a bit earlier there. Though the current system of social purchasing is a little clunky, often involving several third-parties like Line and Shopee, there is and was already a precedent present for this kind of behavior, one that doesn’t quite exist here in the states yet.
But that doesn’t mean that Facebook isn’t preparing for a future in which it does. If you’re paying attention, which isn’t a given, then you can see what this could mean for us here. Venmo and Chirpify are perfectly viable social-media based transaction companies. Both want to make the process of sending money and purchasing via social, respectively, a seamless process. So, the prospect of social purchasing taking hold here isn’t a far off notion.
A Facebook that has purchasing capabilities built into it just removes another barrier between you and your money. The platform has already perfected the ability for content by publishers like the New York Times and TechCrunch to be served to you within Facebook, killing the need for you to have to leave, and it’s so seamless, I would wager many don’t even notice it. A successful trial run in Southeast Asia means this technology can be applied to products served to you within your NewsFeed, integrating a storefront-like interface for Facebook users.
All of this seems pretty far off, but the way that we purchase things and conduct transactions of all kinds has changed drastically in the past 5 years. Imagine what e-commerce would look like in the next 10? We are fast approaching the confluence of technology, user behavior, and social media ubiquity to form a new consumer habit that looks poised to be a standard before long.