Social media, like any other innovation, is likely to go through a refinement period, which seems like a never-ending process of updates and improvements. Despite its substantial list of pros and cons, social media sites and apps have been here for more than a decade and their footprints are both profound and undeniable in today's digital payments space.
The social media pioneers that evolved our social behavior, have moved the bar again by implementing a payment gateway within their ecosystem. They have changed the way we approach payments towards our friends, family and associates. Just when we thought that social media was a big disrupter to our social interactions, they are now working on disrupting the payments industry.
We could wonder whether social media payments could be the catalyst for a cashless society in the near future.
Today, social media platforms have all the right ingredients needed for developing a strong payment platform. They can reach across distant and remote locations, hold a mammoth of customer base that increases exponentially, ease of use with far better customized user interface than other mobile or web applications, and most importantly social cohesion across the consumers that easily initiates a channel of communication.
Despite all these benefits, the adoption of social media payments is considerably lower than expected, especially in comparison to the adoption of other recent payment trends like, Real Time Payments(RTP) and Mobile Payments.
PayPal first popularized the trend while other companies have ever since hatched their own versions to it. Some popular names like Apple Pay, Twitter Buy, Google Wallet, WhatsApp Pay, Venom and Snapcash.
Facebook owned WhatsApp, holds an extensive user base of 200 million and growing, easily could prove to be a full-fledged social media payment platform, especially given WhatsApp’s platform strengths like broad set of payment streams, reinforcement of business opportunities via virtual offices & direct sales, ability to personalize selling opportunities based on consumer data and quicker payments via consumer footprints.
Considering the massive database of users that social media possess backed with the payment capabilities readily available, it makes perfect sense to bring the two together.
However there are some of the challenges as well in social media payments space.
In cases where systems are compromised, hackers can potentially access the bank information of every user on that particular platform. It is also quite easy to manipulate the payments on the app, one needs only minimum access to a mobile device with the social media application logged in. The case is similar for mobile banking as well, but in mobile banking the app session logs out after non usage (for a defined time interval). Thus soon the phone’s security features will be more important than ever, as social media payment apps will require not only PIN and Biometrics for authorization but further authentication purposes to access it’s payments functions.
So after much debate, should we view social media payments as a friend or a foe? If social media payments, like any other innovation, goes through it's refinement period related to cybersecurity, then one day we can surely expect social media payments be considered a friend to drive growth of social payments.