The social network will soon enable us to send money to our friends and Nigerian princes using its Messenger app. While the feature is already there, it hasn’t been turned on for the general public.
Just in case Facebook didn’t already have enough information on you, your friends and family, now it will also have access to debit card information. That is, if you want to use the Facebook Messenger friend-to-friend payment system.
The hidden feature was discovered by Stanford student Andrew Aude who used Cycript, a tool that enables developers to take mobile apps apart in order to learn how to modify them. Judging by what he told Gizmodo’s Kate Knibbs, this didn’t actually happen in the past week, but a month ago: “I first found it a month ago with Jonathan Zdziarski’s security research into Facebook Messenger.” One of Zdziarski’s screenshots triggered Aude’s curiosity and motivated him to dig deeper into the matter. After performing some research, he discovered that the payment feature is actually part of Facebook Messenger, and not a stand-alone app.
Ex-PayPal president David Marcus joined the social network not long ago as the head of Messenger, so this new feature somehow makes sense. The man came and did what he knew best. While PayPal itself doesn’t appear in the app, the code discovered by Aude mentioned that payment processor, which means that Facebook won’t handle the payments on its own.
The Facebook Messenger version discovered by Aude only featured debit card payments. Credit cards and bank accounts weren’t available, even though they might be added at a later point. The only security measure was represented by a PIN, and I really think Facebook should work more on that, as it seems something a bit too easy to bypass.
Notes suggesting the possibility of making payments to multiple parties were also found by Aude within the app’s code. Other than that, the transactions are private, which can only be a good think. It would be awkward and disturbing if incoming or outgoing payments should up as a status update for others to like.
Thank you very much, Facebook, but I’ll just let established companies handle my dough! The company declined to make any comments on Aude’s discovery, and as far as I’m concerned, it hope it kills the project, altogether.
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