Can Facebook’s Money-Transfer Play Get As Popular As WeChat’s? Not For A While

A WeChat user looks at an ad on their feed. (Photo via TPG/Getty Images)

After months of rumours, Facebook finally announced it was launching a peer-to-peer money transfer service for its U.S. users on Tuesday. One recurring question that lingered after the news was the impact on Venmo, a popular mobile payments app among American Millenials.

But here’s another question that hasn’t been discussed as much: Could Facebook’s new service become as popular as that of WeChat’s?

The Chinese messaging app with 500 million active users, launched its money payments service way back in mid-2013 and the feature has since seen stunning usage patterns.

Just last month for Chinese New Year, WeChat users sent one another an incredible 1 billion “red envelopes” on the app, a digital spin on the real-life tradition of gifting money for the holiday, each filed with an unknown quantity of cash.

The year before, they’d sent just 20 million envelopes, according to TechInAsia, and over a longer period of time.

WeChat’s user base seems to have fallen in love with its money-transfer feature, and that could be a tantalizing prospect for Facebook execs like David Marcus, who left PayPal to run Facebook Messenger last year, to help it make the switch to money transfer.

But Facebook can’t assume that because it’s the dominant social network in the West, as WeChat is in China, its service will see the same kind of explosive growth.

“In-app payments and m-commerce more generally have long been much more mainstream and popular in the Asia Pacific region, and China in particular,” says Jason Mander, lead analyst at market research firm GlobalWebIndex.

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Original Text: Forbes 18/03/2015 Parmy Olson Forbes Staff

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