Let’s pretend for a minute that we’re not scared of the picture of the future that Facebook is painting for us.
Pretend that you don’t mind the privacy issues or the fact that Facebook is easily one of the world’s biggest repositories of personal information.
Pretend that the Facebook future isn’t creepy. It’s exciting.
And then embrace the Facebook Card. Wait, the what?
The Facebook Card is surely coming. It needs to be in the works as we speak. I demand that its existence be more than merely a product of my imagination. The premise is simple: Facebook Credits have a potential of becoming an equivalent of PayPal. Everybody uses Facebook, so we are all only one click away from using Facebook Credits. If the point of sale at your local Starbucks is wired to the Facebook system, all you need to do is swipe your Facebook Card and pay with FB Credits. It’s no more complicated than using a gift card or a debit card.
First step toward the FB Card is then its approximation to the PayPal model. The Internet is quickly adopting Facebook Connect, linking your profile to comments on blogs and letting you “like” news stories all over the web. It would only make sense then that a checkout option for online purchases became Facebook Credits. Recharge the credits from your Facebook page and use them to pay for goods all over the web.
But, you might think, PayPal already does this and it has not managed to get widespread implementation on the “real” world – the physical world. However, Facebook is more than just the credits – it is already a very real, tangible part of our everyday life.
The number one reason to believe that Facebook could succeed in creating the new form of real-world payment is that, as I mentioned before, we already have a Facebook account. Give any user $5 in FB credits just for making their first purchase and you already have a big enough incentive for a big chunk of your user base to adopt, or at least try out, the payment system. Some companies, for example, are already offering deals that grant Facebook Credits in exchange for follows and re-tweets.
Next up is Facebook Places. This feature is already integrated enough with mobile such that it is quite simple to “check in” to a location and reap a reward in the form of a discount or a recurring visitor deal. If my Facebook Card is linked to Places, then it can auto-check me in when I pay with it, give me the discount automatically and even tag me in a post in the process – granted that I gave it all of these permissions in advance. In turn the Facebook Places database will become much richer and its user base largely increased. Tasti D lite already does this with their rewards card, which automatically checks you in to Foursquare and Tweets on your behalf when you make a purchase.
After that come the marketing opportunities. As a customer, the targeted offers you encounter online will become exponentially more relevant. Retailers will be able to ask Facebook to target their ads at people who shop at specific locations or specific times, who spend an amount of money in a specified range, who travel a lot, have spent money on several US states, are tagged in pictures in specific European cities, have at least X friends in a determined age range, have children, are married, have been in a specific number of relationships, held their current relationship for at least a year of have spent at least 6 months without entering a relationship, users who log in mostly on weekends or that tend to drink draft beer in bars. You name it.
In other words, Facebook will be able to correlate your personal information, shopping data, location data, personal connections, close and not-so-close friends, page and article likes, tagged pictures and posts, games you play and much more and offer deals and ads that are relevant to one or more of these experiences.
I see the Facebook Card as the logical next step – the enabler for this outbreak. It is the perfect coming-together of Facebook’s latest initiatives: Credits and Places. It is also a platform to greatly enrich their databases with relevant user information that can be leveraged into revenue. And, on top of that, it is a direct line into becoming a solidified constant in our lives.
Can you see it coming?
Embrace it! Isn’t it exciting?