Want to buy something? Sign into Facebook first

Want to buy something? Sign into Facebook first

Summary: The social network seeks to steal PayPal's thunder by allowing the use of its login credentials to speed online and mobile purchases. Yowza.

Photo illustration: Andrew Nusca

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that entering billing information all over the web is a drag.

Choose your method of payment.

Enter your name on the card.

Enter your convenient 15-digit card number.

Enter the expiration date.


Online vendors don't like it, either—mainly because it's an additional hurdle that gets in the way of your buying something. The brilliance of seamless, frictionless, one-click shopping is that you'll likely buy more stuff. It reduces the time spent thinking about how much money you're blowing on that solid state hard drive you just need for your third home computer system.

PayPal has long played middleman in this game. But now that social networks have made inroads as identity managers of sorts—if a person is not on a social service of some kind, they might as well not exist—Facebook wants a piece of the action.

And the money.

Facebook is evaluating a new product that would allow online shoppers to make purchases on mobile apps using their Facebook login information, according to a new AllThingsD report.

The idea, as Jason Del Rey and Mike Isaac note, is to speed the process. Once you provide Facebook with your banking details, it will divulge them to mobile-ready vendors as you wish. 

The upside is easy to discern: Facebook gets to play matchmaker, taking a cut from the revenue and reinforcing its position as your online identity. The vendors get a lift from the world's largest social network site, selling through a channel that's still small but growing rapidly.

Oh, and did we mention all the transaction data Facebook would be privvy to? Which it could then package and sell to advertisers? Worth its weight in gold, I'm sure.

PayPal isn't the only company at risk; a number of other payments efforts (from Google's Checkout to the startup Stripe) have long been working to take advantage of this business opportunity. 

Critics in the AllThingsD article cite trust as a major hurdle for Facebook, but let's be honest—we're already purchasing billions of dollars worth of things online in a seamless way, from physical and digital goods on Amazon to virtual items using Microsoft's Xbox Live and Apple's iTunes. 

Why should Facebook be any different?

Topics: E-Commerce, Banking, Start-Ups

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • I would never...

    Give my credit or bank info to Facebook.

    "Once you provide Facebook with your banking details....."

    That statement is wrong in so many ways.
    • "Once you provide Facebook with your banking details....."

      This truly made me laugh out loud.
  • If it's one thing we can agree on

    it's that using Facebook is a drag.

    Log on and read the rivers of updates.

    Get pitches and see ads of products your friends are using.

    Scroll past all the requests from friends to cut and paste their statuses and posts.

    Take surveys.


    On the other hand, this is a great move for Facebook. Makes a lot of sense. I'm not a fan of the site but they're really leveraging their popularity in a lot of smart ways. There's so much growth potential and opportunities for them.
  • But...

    Only problem here is that I trust PayPal. Facebook, not so much.
    Chip Moody
  • Oh you poor, poor baby...

    "Choose your method of payment.

    Enter your name on the card.

    Enter your convenient 15-digit card number.

    Enter the expiration date.


    All that typing must be wearing your delicate little fingers to the bone.

    Give your credit card info to Farcebook? Seriously?

    Kid...your credibility as an IT journalist just went down the toilet.
    • If you want to lob personal attacks

      ...take 'em somewhere else.

      You're welcome to disagree with Facebook's actions. But shooting the messenger? Ain't nobody got time for that.
      • Sorry Andrew, but @IT_Fella is spot on.

        You come off whining about entering data in fields, like it's the hardest task you have ever performed.

        What's it take? Maybe 30 seconds?
      • how about some constructive critism...

        It's not that you told us about what Facebook is ATTEMPTING to do, that got everybody calling you "moron" and such. It's the fact that you seem to support the idea of it. People actually handing over their personal banking info to TRUST FACEBOOK with?!?!? Could you imagine just for a second that someone famous wanted to buy something online, and the only way that they could (if PayPal and others are gone) is to sign in on Facebook? This would seriously HURT the online economy. People would stop making online purchases if this was how it got done.

        Think about it. Next time: engage brain before your hands reach for the keyboard.
  • I will dance on Paypals grave

    Awful company, horrible service - it's a long time coming for someone to take them out. Facebook has my blessing.
    Roger Yates
    • You think Facebook is going to give you better service?

      Let us know how that works for you.
  • Mark of the Beast

    Ah great the Mark of the Beast: Can't buy without signing into Facebook.
    Joshua Copeland
  • More Personal Info to Facebook ????

    Are you kidding? How many time have we had to change our Facebook settings, just to maintain a little privacy? And now they would like to have my banking information !!!!!! Sorry, can't stop laughing. But I'm sure ther will be plenty of foolhardy individuals who will see (not understand) no problem with doing just that. Poor Babies!!!!
    John the Farmer
  • Why should Facebook be any different?

    I can't believe you actually asked that question. How about because they cannot be trusted.
  • Anyone who hands their banking info over to Facebook

    is a fool (and that's being polite). Even assuming that Facebook will not do anything nasty with your data, what about the possibility of their being hacked and massive amounts of financial data falling into the wrong hands???

    No thank you. I do not have a Facebook account nor would I ever give them that kind of information if I had one.

    • I completely agree.

      A fool and their money are soon parted only now it could be done faster the Facebook way.

      I've been using PayPal for years. Complete a transaction. Get an email shortly afterward confirming. I have a view into what has transacted. This way my information sits at one location rather than every screwed up online retailer that can't keep my information secure.

      With all of Facebook's problems, sharing, etc., I don't want to find out that some setting buried 5 levels down allows others to see my banking details.
  • 15 digits, eh?

    Credit card numbers are 16 digits - except for Am Ex...
  • Want to buy something? Sign into Facebook first

    I wouldn't want to use either Facebook or PayPal for purchases.
  • Not convinced

    I don't really trust PayPal, though I use it occasionally (since it's hard to avoid it altogether), and I've heard some real horror stories in various contexts on the Internet (so they must be true!), but at least PayPal is designed (successfully or not) from the ground up as an allegedly secure, reliable payment service. Facebook certainly isn't that, and since much of the point of Facebook building such a thing would be to let them tie it in with targeted ads and such, it'd be hard for them to convince me that they weren't leaking financial data like a sieve. It's bad enough that the ads I see are affected for weeks just by going to some "relevant" web page even once. Imagine if the actual transaction data rather than just the cookie data were available to advertisers. Of course, Facebook would swear up and down that nothing private was passed along.
  • No Facebook, no plans for Facebook

    Well, requiring me to use Facebook would lock me out of buying from one of those companies. I simply have no use for Facebook; I have enough timesucks in my life, thank you!

    There are already a lot of blogs/forums/web sites that require a Facebook login to post a comment. If I can find contact information for that site's owner I usually write a quick note to tell them that's a bad policy.

    Many people seem to hate paypal but I've never had issues with them either sending or receiving money. But they are guilty of making it difficult to contact them - moreso after they were acquired by eBay.
    • facebook login

      I couldn't agree more about how misguided the "login with Facebook" in order to post a comment. That's even on sites where I've had a member login for several years. How much is Facebook paying them to add this "feature?" I had a Facebook account for a while but shut it down a couple of years ago for many of the reasons cited by others in this thread. But the idea of sharing financial information with FB is pure lunacy.
      also Ken