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but it needs to be baked into a product,
not slapped on like icing
after the cake is baked.”

Duane Forrester

PayBook or FacePal : Can it really work?

In an obvious move, PayPal have joined forces with Facebook with an application which allows users to send money to their peers on the world’s largest networking site. While not exactly a revolutionary move (considering how quickly Facebook is merging with our everyday lives), it’s still a great idea and will no doubt be used for a number of reasons by a number of Facebook users.

The app is titled Send Money, and it appears the functionality will be just as straightforward as its name suggests. All you need to do is choose an e-card (or choose to skip a card altogether), select the lucky friend, decide how much you want to spend and send it away. PayPal’s Anuj Nayer says this merge is just another way of personalising the act of giving money.

The good news for consumers is that it’s a free service, as the money is being sent peer to peer. As long as the transaction is from a PayPal account or linked to a high street bank account, users will not pay any fees aside from PayPal’s usual charges on international transactions.  Journalist and blogger Ben Parr of Mashable.com says workers at the social media website are sure this move will take off due to the ease of sending a quickie birthday present or reimbursing mates for drinks and lunches.

 

This is all true – it will make gift-giving easier, it will make use of the 80% of PayPal users with active Facebook accounts, and it will progress social payments into the norm. However, there are a few questions both PayPal and Facebook have yet to answer, or are quite possibly yet to even think about. On a personal level, sending someone a gift via e-money on Facebook could be seen as impersonal. Will you really send your best friend or mother a quick, thoughtless e-card using your PayPal account? And will you really feel the need to give the guy from third grade maths some of your hard-earned dosh just because you see it’s his birthday on Facebook and you can easily with Send Money?

This remains to be seen, and only time will tell if people will become used to the lack of personalisation in gift-giving online. The main issue would be the lack of ‘hard cash’ involved. Both users need a PayPal account, and even if both users do have an account (which won’t always be the case), it’s not as simple as withdrawing cash in an instant. People want direct-to-wallet service, one in which users can be sent money and directly withdrawal cash from a high street ATM to get the cash in their hot little pocket in an instant.

Send Money can almost be seen as PayPal’s final effort to communicate successfully with the younger generation, with Facebook being an obvious solution. The merits of this merger is overshadowed by the fact that this is still very much an online solution – it brings no real change to the real-world banking. While this may make PayPal an inch more relevant to the online generation, this move is more likely to ignite the obvious need for an all-round, online and real-world social banking solution, one that will be adopted by the online generation due to it’s online capabilities and real-world practicality. Send Money definitely aids the social banking movement, but misses out the key aspect of hard cash that can be used day to day.

It will no doubt be a success on certain levels for PayPal, but chances are it won’t revolutionise social payments quite yet. It will most likely get Facebook and PayPal users used to the idea of sending money to one another via Facebook, but a more direct-to-wallet exchange is required to make the service fool proof. Once a full social banking solution is introduced, it is quite possible the Send Money app will become obsolete for online bankers.

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