Facebook is still one of the biggest social networking sites in Zambia and daily we see advertisements from the various pages we may have liked. However there has never been a direct ‘buy’ button feature before that lets you buy directly from the social media platform, without ever having to leave Facebook. It is currently only being tested for select businesses in the USA but hopefully it rolls out to the rest of the world too.
The main feature is that the ‘buy’ call-to-action button is placed within the ad itself so it is easy to locate. The user can then click on it, enter their account/credit card details (e.g the Kwacha Barclays Bank credit card) and the transaction is immediately carried out.
This beats the current system on Facebook where advertisers of various good/services give you a number to call for orders, or ask you to send via mobile money, meaning most would have to multitask on their phone to make payments. The ‘buy’ button feature will cut out on the need to multitask and allow users do everything on-site.
There are a lot of raised eyebrows at this move though, because just 6 months ago, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claimed the company was not looking to go into direct eCommerce and would only stick to having ads on their site.
Is it safe?
Facebook claims so, because all the credit and debit card information used will be private and not shared with other advertisers, and users can save their financial transactions for future reference if they want.
How would this affect the mobile money industry, which is on the rise in Zambia?
A lot of people are now using mobile money to make payments for purchases within the country, especially for business that sell on Facebook, so this new ‘buy’ button feature might block them out, unless a feature is made to include that aspect of banking sector too. Otherwise people will have to resort to opening bank accounts to get a credit/debit card they can use specifically for transactions. It will raise competition in the banking sector, mobile operators and other mobile money companies like Zoona.
Are there any positive effects?
Ofcourse! The companies that depend on social media for a fraction of their sales will now have an opportunity to increase their figures to clients who use their products/services with the introduction of the ‘buy’ button. It’s much more convenient than having to go in-store and saves on transportation on the part of the consumer, and reduces on queues in-store on the part of the seller.
This ‘buy’ button is supposed to be available on both desktop and mobile Facebook applications. Twitter made a similar move recently and we can’t help but feel the service mimic that Facebook is trying to do.
Let’s wait and see what Facebook gets up to next to stay relevant. Their official blog states, “The current test is limited to small and medium businesses in the USA. We’ll share more information as we gather feedback.”
In the meantime, we’ll stick to mobile money payments and/or physical cash.