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Facebook Messenger gains app-based person-to-person money transfers

In "coming months," Facebook is rolling out person-to-person money transfers in its Messenger apps for iOS, Android, and the Web, the social network announced on Tuesday.

Initiating a payment through Facebook Messenger involves tapping a new dollar sign button, entering the amount, and then selecting Pay. To send or receive cash, a person must add a Visa or MasterCard debit card issued by a U.S. bank to their Facebook account.

From there a person can add a custom PIN, and Facebook suggests two-factor account authentication as another layer of security. On iOS devices users can replace a PIN with fingerprints data stored in Touch ID.

Facebook states that the new payment systems are in a "secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network," and subject to extra monitoring. This includes an anti-fraud team tasked with looking for suspicious transfers.

Although money is technically transferred right away, it may take one to three days for cash to become available.

Messenger is not the first major chat service to allow payments between users. One alternative is Snapchat, which offers a similar function called Snapcash.