Facebook’s next payments experiment is making its public debut.
As AllThingsD previously reported, Facebook has been testing a feature with a handful of retail partners that would allow customers to automatically enter their payment information into mobile devices via their Facebook accounts.
Beginning on Monday evening, Facebook will make that product public, slowly rolling it out to its billion-strong user network.
It’s (aptly) named “Autofill with Facebook,” and it’s a simple yet seemingly useful proposition. If you’ve stored your address and credit card information on Facebook, retail apps partnered with the company in the pilot program — currently only Jack Threads and Mosaic — will display a small drop-down prompt when hitting the payment info screen upon checkout.
Hit the autofill button, and the app will snatch your info from your Facebook-connected account and fill in the form.
Facebook positions the move as a way to reduce friction in mobile payments, one of the most difficult and frustrating areas for retailers to convert online retail perusers into paying customers. The small screen and lack of keyboard proves too much work for the casual smartphone shopper. Perhaps Facebook’s new tool could remove some of that friction. (And I’m sure it will, as it seems to work well.)
Still, the product has the potential to disrupt mobile payments beyond the autofill capability. Commerce businesses are always looking for new customers. Now, Facebook can pitch others on the fact that Facebook ads can be used to drive new customers to mobile purchases, optimized for those very Facebook users.
In short, the pitch is: We find you new customers and make it as easy as possible for them to make their first transaction. As a result, other payments companies are watching this development closely.
Right now the test is very small, but Facebook aims to scale the program out as it tests functionality with users and signs more retail partners.
(article by M.Isaac)