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Facebook rumoured to be poised to offer m-payments as it eyes becoming e-com giant

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Facebook could be lining itself up to be an m-commerce powerhouse with news that it is preparing to join the mobile-payments race with remittances and electronic-money services. According to industry sources, the company is close to obtaining approval from the Central Bank of Ireland to start a service that would allow users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange with others within the site.

Facebook and the Irish central bank have so far declined to comment.

The company has also had partnership talks with at least three London start-ups – TransferWise, Moni Technologies and Azimo – that offer online and mobile international money transfer services, it is reported in the Financial Times.

Facebook’s specific plans, including which countries the electronic-money services would be available in, were not immediately clear. But Patrick Salyer, CEO of Gigya – which works with major brands including Nike, Microsoft, FedEx, Pepsico, Dell and Red Bull to help them connect with and better understand their customers through social media – believes that Facebook has set its sights on becoming a major e-commerce player, as it competes to own consumer identity as a whole.

This will become increasingly important with the onset of an ‘internet of things’ revolution. Facebook is a dominate player in the social login market, that is, consumers logging into their favourite brands’ websites using their social media profile. In e-commerece, Facebook accounts for 76% of all logins and payment is a natural step forward.

The market for mobile and electronic payments is heating up, as technology companies, telecom groups, retailers and banks all try to get a foothold in a business that is expected to grow rapdily in the next few years.

PayPal, a division of eBay , saw its mobile payment volume double to $27 billion in 2013. Google’s head of payments recently also reiterated commitment to the struggling Google Wallet and mobile payments service. And Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in January the company’s interest in mobile payments was a reason for creating the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in its iPhone 5S smartphone.

Vodafone brought its mobile money transfer service M-Pesa to Romania last month, following its success in Africa, and is likely to expand the service in eastern and central Europe.

Global mobile transactions are expected to grow at an average 35 percent per year between 2012 and 2017, according to a report by research firm Gartner. The June 2013 report forecast a $721 billion market with more than 450 million users by 2017.

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