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Meta plans to bring payment features to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp

Meta is setting up a product company to identify and build “feasible payment features” for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, according to an internal memo sent to employees last week. to the edge.

The new division is Meta’s first serious attempt at building paid features into its main social apps, all three of which have billions of users. It’s being set up after Meta’s ad business was hit hard by Apple’s ad tracking changes on iOS and a broader pullback in digital ad spending. Called New Monetization Experience, the team will be led by Pratithi Roychowdhury, formerly head of Meta Research.

In an interview with to the edge, Meta’s VP of monetization, John Hageman, who oversees the group, said the company is still committed to growing its advertising business and has no plans to pay people to turn off ads in its apps. “I think we’re seeing opportunities to create new types of products, features and experiences that people are willing to pay for and excited to pay for,” he said. He declined to elaborate on the paid features being considered.

Meta’s revenue comes almost entirely from advertising, and while its apps already have several paid features, the social media giant hasn’t made charging users a priority until now. Hegeman downplays paid features as a meaningful part of the business in the near term, but “if there’s a couple of opportunities to create new value and meaningful revenue streams and provide some diversification, I think that’s obviously going to happen. It’s going to be attractive.”

In the long term, Meta sees payment features becoming a more meaningful part of its business, he said. “I think over a five-year time horizon this will really move the needle and make a very significant difference.”

Facebook group administrators can already charge for access to exclusive content and purchase virtual “stars” to send to creators. WhatsApp charges certain businesses for the ability to send messages to their customers, and Instagram recently announced that creators could start charging a subscription for access to exclusive content. In June, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company won’t cut transactions from paid features and subscriptions until 2024.

Meta isn’t alone in its push toward more paid features. Over the past few years, social media apps have become more and more charging. TikTok began testing paid subscriptions for creators earlier this year, Twitter paid SuperFollows, and Discord made its money entirely from its Nitro subscription. Additionally, this year both Telegram and Snapchat added paid tiers that unlock additional features. Snapchat’s paid tier proved to be an early hit.

“We’re obviously paying attention to what’s going on in the industry,” said Hegemann. “And I think there are multiple companies that have done interesting things in this space that I think we can learn from and emulate over time.”

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