First reported by Techcrunch, the alleged feature was spotted by a Stanford computer science student Andrew Aude who reportedly used an iOS app exploration developer tool called Cycript.
According to Aude, the peer-to-peer money transfer feature in the Facebook Messenger will reportedly allow users to send money with their debit cards much like Square's Cash app.
The report notes, "Messenger's payment option lets users can send money in a message similar to how they can send a photo. Users can add a debit card in Messenger, or use one they already have on file with Facebook. An in-app pin code also exists for added security around payments."
Aude further revealed that the alleged Messenger payments worked only with debit cards (and not credit cards or bank accounts), possibly due to the fact that money transfers from debit cards doesn't require approvals. "Based on my understanding of the debit interchange rates, each transaction will cost Facebook roughly $0.40 to $0.50 (Durbin swipe fee + ACH fee). The app didn't mention a fee to send, so it's probably free, at least initially. Over time they might add a $1 fee," speculates Aude. However, Facebook is yet to make any official announcements regarding any such feature.
He also detailed the process, "The mechanism it uses is to debit one account, and then use some magical means to lookup the bank account number of the recipient and ACH [Automated Clearing House] deposit it, Identical to Square Cash."
In the codes Aude investigated, a note explained, "In the short term, we will only support single payment attachment. Multiple payment attachments will be supported in the future."
Reportedly PayPal as a payment option was not available in the Messenger, according to Aude. However, he claims that notes related to PayPal were included in the codes.
As of now, there is no word whether the money transfer feature using the Messenger app will include some charges for users. Techcrunch speculates that Facebook might offer "the functionality for free to drive usage of its standalone chat app."
It's worth mentioning that Facebook back in June hired top PayPal executive David Marcus as head of Messenger to boost the company's mobile messaging service. The company earlier this year split off its Facebook Messenger service as a standalone app.
Lately, Facebook has been testing new "buy" button on its website that would allow consumers purchase products that are advertised on the social platform.