This is the last of a series that looks at the big dog ambitions in Fintech. So far I have covered Google, Alibaba and Apple. (I have not covered Amazon as I have not discovered any major moves yet – please tell me if I have missed something).
Speculation alert: Facebook has not yet made their big move in Fintech.
The big Facebook question is:
“Will Facebook monetize WhatsApp by adding payments?”
Facebook won’t monetize WhatsApp with advertising. It is not just that they promised not to, it is that text messaging is a lousy ad platform unless you get spookily far on the wrong side of privacy.
At $1 per user per year, there are not enough people on this planet (about 7 billion) to recoup that $19 billion investment from subscriptions and many people would switch to a free service (remember for a lot of those 7 billion people, $1 is quite a lot of money).
Mark Zuckerberg is a smart guy. He must have a plan and the only one that makes sense is payments. Facebook already has virtual currency, so it’s a simple step to let people send that currency to each other using WhatsApp.
That would put Facebook slap bang against Bitcoin – a different virtual currency with a different payment network. I don’t see anything like a distributed ledger in Facebook or WhatsApp.
So far we only have rumors and speculation, but most people that I speak to assume that Facebook will get into payments. The rumors intensified when Facebook poached David Marcus from PayPal.