Facebook Messenger isn’t just for chatting. You can also send money to (and request payments from) friends on the Facebook platform. If you spend a lot of time in Messenger, this may be a convenient option for sending and receiving money online.
How Facebook Messenger Payments Work
You can use Facebook Messenger on your desktop or make in-app payments from a mobile device. Making payments is a free process whether you send or receive money.
One advantage of using Facebook Messenger to send and receive payments is that you can easily split the cost of something with several people. For example, if you plan a group outing on Facebook, members in a group discussion can repay somebody who organizes and pays a booking fee.
While payments feel easy and informal, there are several requirements to use Messenger for making transactions:
- You need to have an active Facebook account.
- You need to fund payments with a U.S. bank-issued Visa or MasterCard debit card, or with a PayPal account. Some prepaid cards may work, as well.
- You must be 18 or older to use the service.
- All parties involved must live in the U.S.
How to Send Money
Sending money with Facebook is almost as easy as sending a private message. Whether you choose to send through the Messenger app or through the Facebook website, these are the steps involved:
- Start a private conversation in Messenger with the person you want to pay.
- Tap the “+” icon for more actions.
- Use the "$" icon to view the payment screen.
- Enter the amount you want to send.
- Push the “Pay” button to send the money.
If you have never provided payment information to Facebook, you will see a "Next" button instead of the “Pay” button.
Your First Payment
To use Messenger payments for the first time, you need to provide funding information. It’s easy to submit this information as you go through the process of making a payment, but you can also add or change funding methods in Facebook’s settings.
To add a funding method, enter your debit card number or PayPal account information, along with any other required information. You also have the opportunity to set up a personal identification number (PIN), which can help prevent unauthorized payments. Choose a code that is hard to guess and that nobody else knows. If you want extra security, you can require a fingerprint match or facial recognition on some devices.
Debit card payments pull money out of your checking account almost immediately. Make sure you have sufficient funds in your account to avoid overdraft charges, bounced checks, and other problems before you make a payment with Facebook Messenger.
How to Receive Money
When you receive a payment, Facebook sends the money to your linked debit card or PayPal account right away. That being said, it may take up to three business days for the money to appear in your bank account.
Provide Your Account Info
If you don't yet have a linked account, you need to provide card details or your PayPal account information to accept payments. After you do this once, any future payments go to the linked account.
If You Need Money Faster
If you need the funds to be available for spending immediately, Zelle might work as an alternative to Messenger payments. Funds move directly from one bank to another, so Zelle transfers are typically available within minutes. You might already have access to Zelle through your bank, and payments clear quickly when both your bank and the sender's bank work with Zelle.
Are Facebook Messenger Payments Safe?
Facebook claims that your money and your information are secure. Still, whenever money is involved, it’s smart to take steps to protect yourself from fraud and other problems.
Beware of Fraud
You can’t cancel Messenger payments, although recipients can voluntarily reject payments if you make a mistake. Plus, Facebook has limited consumer protection when you buy something through Messenger. Whenever you make a payment, it’s best to assume that the money is gone for good.
Only pay people you know and trust with Facebook Messenger. Double-check to verify somebody’s identity (impostor accounts are always a possibility on Facebook), and look for signs of common money scams.
To protect yourself, establish a PIN for Messenger payments (or use biometric security, if available on your device). Biometric features such as Touch ID and facial recognition are only available when using the Messenger app on certain devices. PINs and biometric security are optional, and it’s wise to take advantage of those security measures when you can.
Facebook reports that your personal data and linked account information are encrypted, and the company employs anti-fraud technology to reduce the chances of theft. Facebook also stores your financial information separately from your basic profile data, which would ideally help if certain systems are breached.
Facebook originally developed Messenger payments with help from financial industry experts, so it’s reasonable to expect relatively robust security. Still, even robust systems can get hacked.
Privacy is always a concern online. However, if you already share everything on Facebook and you’re not concerned about privacy, a bit of your financial information might not matter.
Still, data can be mined and analyzed in surprising ways, so be mindful of how you send and receive money. For example, when you make a payment in Messenger, your name, profile photo, and payment amount are shared with your payee, and the transaction information resides on Facebook's servers.
In group payment situations, all group members can see payment information. F that bothers you, it’s best to pay one-to-one.
Monitor your linked funding accounts (your checking account or your PayPal account, for example) in addition to your PayPal account. Sign up for automated alerts to stay informed about withdrawals from your bank account, and notify your bank immediately if you see transactions you don’t recognize.