Facebook plans mobile payment service

Internet giant Facebook is close to being granted an electronic money licence for payment and remittance services, in the company's latest effort to boost mobile services.

The financial service, which would be valid throughout the EU, will allow users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with other users.

The social network will be able to issue units of stored monetary value that represent a claim against the company, a process known as “passporting”.

The mobile money licence is being obtained in Ireland, where the company has its European headquarters.

Facebook is also reportedly in talks with three startups – TransferWise, Moni Technologies and Azimo – that offer international money transfer services via smartphones, according to the Financial Times.

Mobile payments are predicted to grow at an average of 35% annually between 2012 and 2017, creating an industry worth approximately $721 billion with 450 million users, according to Gartner Research.

Many companies are racing to invest in this area. Vodafone launched its M-Pesa e-money service in Romania last month, following its success in Africa.

Rival companies Google and Apple have indicated ambitions to develop similar services, and Google reiterated its commitment to the platform after an unsuccessful first attempt at Google Wallet, a mobile payments service.

Apple said last year that its Touch ID capability on the iPhone 5S device was part of its plans to launch mobile payments.

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