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Facebook pulls plug on P2P service in UK and France

Facebook says it will end the service that enables peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers via Messenger in Europe in two months’ time.

The company announced that it will pull the plug on the service in the UK and France – the two countries in the region where it had been rolled out – from Saturday June 15. However, it appears that the service will remain active in the US, where Facebook holds several money transmission licences.

Facebook has also begun issuing notices to users of the service in the two countries, although the numbers are believed to be fairly low. The company is not shutting down payments altogether in Europe, where it will continue to let people make charitable donations through Facebook.

Short-lived service

A statement issued by the company on its main help page for the payments service read: “On 15 June 2019, we will discontinue P2P services Messenger on or through Facebook messages for all residents in the UK and France. While you won’t be able to exchange money with friends and family, you’ll still be able to complete other transactions through Facebook, such as making donations to charitable organisations.”

Facebook obtained a licence for P2P payments in Europe at the end of 2016 and launched the service in the UK and France the following November, with the aim of competing with PayPal and other remittance services.

The move was long anticipated, with persistent rumours of Facebook developing social payments, and even acquiring a start-up as the market for remittances and individuals using social networks for P2P transactions started to take off.

In developing markets, where transfer fees for services like Western Union are high and much of the population is unbanked, remittances using mobile handsets have become a popular means of transferring money. Mobile and Facebook’s supremacy in social graphs and messaging with the likes of WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram all part of the Facebook stable — made P2P payments a natural fit.

However, the European service remained stuck in first gear, confined only to the UK and France without more countries being added or money transfers to international recipients made possible.

It was also unclear whether Facebook had made preparations for the introduction in Europe of the new payment directive called Strong Customer Authentication, which will be introduced from September 14 and requires extra checks to be made for a user’s identity in any online transaction.

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