As Facebook Tests Mobile Shopping Feature, Does PayPal Face a New Threat?
"Facebooking" may become the default verb for shopping on the Internet.
Facebook is on a tear to become the one-stop shop for all of our online needs. The Wal-Mart of the Internet has already entered the dominions of email, chat, and news. Yesterday, during a website outage, the New York Times still managed to report on Egypt's vice president quitting and Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s sentencing, thanks to one of the social network's features, Facebook Notes.
Shopping on Facebook has gone from being a simple credits system where users could pay to play Zynga's (NASDAQ:ZNGA) FarmVille or give Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) coupons for friends' birthdays to an online purchasing platform that is turning plucky e-commerce start-ups into millionaires ten times over.
But that was all just toe-dipping into the waters of online shopping. It now seems like Facebook is climbing the diving board to make a cannonball that could threaten to splash companies with mobile payment platforms like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and PayPal (NASDAQ:EBAY) right out of the pool. These sites have allowed users to associate a credit card, debit card, or bank account with their billing and shipping address as a way of expediting the ordering process, streamlinig the steps down to a single click.
Launching within the next month or so as a pilot test, Facebook will roll out a similar program to users with stored credit cards in their accounts. Using their Facebook logins, members will have access to one-click ordering on mobile apps but only from a single retailer: Facebook partner and flash-sales site JackThreads. If this trial run is successful, we'll likely see the system gradually expand to a wide array of online stores until "Facebooking" becomes the default verb for shopping on the Internet.
At first blush, the idea seems fraught with problems -- namely privacy and security issues. Figures from two years ago had 600,000 Facebook users getting hacked on a daily basis -- or as The Escapist broke it down, one every 140 milliseconds. It's embarrassing enough falling victim to a phishing scheme that has everyone on your friends list doubting your grasp of the English language and utterly confused by your sudden expertise in erectile dysfunction remedies. But leaving your financial well-being -- your very identity -- in the hands in one of the most frequently hacked destinations on the World Wide Web is a far stickier ball of wax.
Before we find every aspect of our lives too deeply entrenched in all things Facebook, perhaps it's time we finally let this behemoth tumble off the Empire State Building.
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