Facebook’s PayPal Rival? Gift Marketplace On the Way
A few months ago, we speculated about the possibility that Facebook was looking to create a virtual currency and turn it into a payment platform that would spread across the well. It would realize the original goal of PayPal: to become the web’s universal currency.
The first piece of the FacePal puzzle has already launched: Facebook Credits, the virtual Facebook currency that has been in testing since April or so. Now, it seems the next part of our prediction is coming true: Facebook is opening up its virtual gifts platform to 3rd party developers. And it’s going to include physical gifts.
Is This Facebook’s PayPal Rival?
According to Inside Facebook, today marks the start of Facebook offerings gifts created by outside developers into the Facebook Gift Shop. It will be a limited test with a limited number of users. These gifts will be clearly marked with the logo of the developer.
What may be the most interesting part is that you can use Facebook credits to purchase real-life gifts. In the example below (courtesy of Inside Facebook), you can clearly see that purchasing a dozen real-life roses prompts you to add your name and address:
While virtual gifts will still be about $1 (10 credits), these real-life gifts could go into the hundreds of credits, as you would expect for a real-life item. The initial test, according to a statement from Facebook, will include American Greetings Interactive, GreetBeatz, Somecards, and Real Gifts.
This looks to be the next step towards making Facebook credits a viable universal web currency. Users will now be able to buy real-life items on Facebook, along with virtual gifts. Facebook will handle the transactions, just like PayPal.
However, the difference is that Facebook will do payments through its own virtual currency, giving it even greater control over transactions. Facebook could be looking to finish what PayPal started, or to even challenge PayPal head-on (it’s even more intriguing because one of Facebook’s board members is a PayPal co-founder).
If this test is successful, you can expect the next step to be Facebook Connect integration. Imagine purchasing your next computer on Dell.com or Amazon.com with Facebook credits. It may be coming sooner than you think.