I’ve been thinking a lot lately about social payments, and have reached two conclusions. The first is that a payment facilitated by a social network is not a social payment—it’s just a normal customer-not-present payment. The second is that social payments are, by definition, social in nature and involve multiple parties. Hear me out on these two thoughts.
What if I used my Visa card to buy a cat flap being sold by a cat flap merchant on a social network? How is that really any different than buying a toaster from a merchant with a Yahoo store? It’s not. One merchant, one buyer, one transaction.
What if the merchant had a Facebook storefront and I was using my card on file in a Facebook wallet? I still say no difference. What if the merchant was enabled by Facebook to accept Facebook credits as a form of payment, and the merchant was subsequently funded by Facebook, minus normal Facebook payments acceptance fees? I’m still not biting. This would be intriguing in a Facebook-centric world, but still not a social payment in my mind. Still one merchant, one buyer, one transaction.
I’ve concluded that for something to be a social payment, it’s got to be social. It’s got to involve multiple parties paying at once. Or multiple parties being paid at once. Or one party buying and another party paying. On and on.