On opening day of the MWC, Facebook released plans to work with developers and wireless providers on a new payment system.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicked off yesterday in Barcelona, Spain. The party will keep on rocking until March 1st. Attendees at this year’s congress include Facebook, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and many more. Facebook got the ball rolling yesterday by announcing that they would make purchasing from apps a whole lot easier.
Facebook is going to act the middle man between web developers and wireless carriers. When developers implement the Facebook Pay Dialog in their apps, instead of forcing users to purchase Facebook Credits (as they’ve had to do in the past), they can choose to be billed through their wireless carrier. Even though customers will be operating through their wireless providers, developers are sending the transactions to Facebook, who in turn is sending those on to users’ wireless carriers.
Right now the system hasn’t been implemented, since coordinating all of that between the wireless companies will take time. This program is all in an effort to make Facebook app development easier on developers (and thereby increasing the likelihood that they’ll keep developing on Facebook, to keep users staying on Facebook longer, and of course, generate the company more money through viewing ads).
Facebook takes a cut of the Credits that are bought and used in apps and the company is also going to take a transaction fee for facilitating mobile charges. While Facebook is interested in helping developers, we can’t ignore the fact that this venture is also partly about padding the company’s own revenue streams.
Other efforts to make life easier for Facebook app developers include creating a cross-platform mobile web test suite called Ringmark, allowing more apps to connect to Open Graph, and joining the W3C’s Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group.
Ringmark is a site that mobile developers can go to that runs scripts to test how the app is working and thereby helping developers troubleshoot and deliver the most completed and usable app they can to customers.
Prior to Facebook’s announcement at MWC, iOS and a sampling of other mobile web apps were able to connect through the Open Graph. Yesterday the social networking giant announced that Android apps would now be able to interact with Facebook’s Open Graph system. By getting app developers to work with Facebook, it’s not only giving the app more exposure but hopefully people using that app will go to Facebook. The company’s main goal is to get and keep users on the social network so more people will see ads for longer amounts of time, which will generate more revenue from companies that buy ad space on Facebook.
The Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group works to create standards for the mobile web and improve the mobile web in general. Hopefully by developing mobile web standards now, in the future, all phones and mobile browsers will adhere to them and developers can be confident that whatever app they’re developing will properly display (and will work) no matter which phone or browser a customer is using. Any big time companies that join the cause will only accelerate standardization and mobile web usability, so having Facebook on board is a great step forward.
In reality, this program seems like a pretty safe attempt from a company that has a whole lot of potential to explore mobile transactions in new ways. A few ideas listed by one reporter include social purchases, digital media through Facebook, and coupons like Groupon or LivingSocial. Although these aren’t options that Facebook announced or addressed in its MWC speech, it’s clear that this new system has no where to go but up (in its number of users and in its profitability).