афFacebook Pay is planning to enter the EU market. Will it launch in Ukraine?

This week TechCrunch wrote about Facebook is preparing to launch payments through its Messenger in the EU. To do this, Facebook Payments International Limited received a license from the Central Bank of Ireland to use electronic money — it’s dated October 24. Ireland, as we know, is a member of the European Union — so it gives Facebook the right to work simultaneously in 27 EU member countries. Original article here, if you’re interested. Given the vigorous launch of Apple Pay in Ukraine, the stable work of Google Pay and the release of such a niche Garmin Pay payment system for sports gadgets, Mark Zuckerberg can seriously think about starting work in Ukraine. I propose to discuss all the pros of such a decision.

What is Facebook Pay?

This is a financial service for Facebook Messenger users (it would be more correct to call it Messenger Pay, but it wouldn’t be completely clear), launched in the US in the spring of 2015. Then it came out in release in several other countries. Thanks to Facebook Pay, users can send money to their friends via the instant messenger without additional fees.

The license of the Central Bank of Ireland permits the issuance of electronic money and gives the right to provide payment services, which include:

Credit operationsPayment for goods and servicesMoney transfers

Payment transactions protection is provided by the device capabilities — you can protect your information with a PIN code, Touch ID or Face ID.

Getting started with Facebook Pay is similar to the already working Instagram payments (they don’t work in Ukraine, but you can add a card), which I wrote about earlier — users link their bank card (debit card, credit is not friendly with FB Pay for some reason), after which the money transfer function becomes available in the standard dialog screen with friends. Also, users can pay for goods and services in Messenger — which are advertised in it or situated in the “games” section.

What is the business benefit of it?

Firstly, the declared audience of Facebook Messenger is 600 million people. Unfortunately, I don’t have data for Ukraine, but if we take into account 20 million Facebook users, then, by modest estimates, Messenger is installed in 7–10 million of our compatriots.

Secondly, it’s direct-delivery of advertising messages about your product to the user with the ability to immediately purchase it. Messenger don’t have a news feed, so the user’s attention is not blurred, it’s as concentrated as possible, which greatly increases involvement. Since the card data is already associated with the platform, the payment is as simple as possible. Facebook is already the main advertising platform, and now users can connect their billing information with access to social networks, they can shop faster and easier than ever before. In addition, thanks to remittances during communication, shopping there will not be such an incomprehensible process.

Will Facebook Pay launch in Ukraine?

The emphasis on building an own payment ecosystem around a multi-million audience is one of the main long-playing priorities for Facebook. As in the case with the developed IG Shopping, the consumption of content goes from a simple acquaintance to the format of a virtual marketplace. And if Instagram targets an audience with real goods through their visual images, Messenger brings people together by forming a social circle. This is a target for money transfers and payments for digital goods.

Both categories are relevant for the Ukrainian market — it’s actively developing and open to everything new stuff, because the «old stuff» was developing too slowly and now is not very necessary.

Argument # 1 — success of competitors. Apple Pay and Google Pay went to Ukraine when it was a risky and supposedly hopeless business. Nevertheless, the number of tokenized transactions (especially on Apple’s solution) breaks records, which finally debunks the myth of the “poorest country in Europe” in the eyes of European and American fintech businesses. Facebook clearly sees this trend and may be interested in further expansion to Eastern Europe.

Argument # 2 — a prepared market. transfer and mobile payments market in Ukraine are growing every quarter. The first one is due to international transfers from Ukrainian citizens earning abroad, the second one is due to mass smartphonization and the development of the mobile Internet. In addition, many Ukrainian fintech products have already accustomed their users to non-cash transfers, and many offers have made the client selective. The mentioned 7–10 million Ukrainians will trust the decision from Facebook more than the domestic one.

Argument # 3 — the road for the development of Facebook cleared by the state authorities. VKontakte and Odnoklassniki are blocked in Ukraine. Previously, they covered the majority of Ukrainian audience, now — those few who are not annoyed by the constant need to use a VPN. At the end of 2018, Facebook has more than 20 million users and continues to grow. Good foundation for innovations.

Thus, Facebook Pay may launch in Ukraine, certainly. Nevertheless, any financial instability will reduce this probability, which in some sense will even be good for Ukrainian fintech companies — yes, they will lose part of the profits, but they won’t get a competitor who was and remains one of the sources of their traffic.

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank