Facebook: Update status, pay the rent?

Facebook - message friends, upload photos, pay your rent?

A state-wide housing agency, Campus Apartments, have expanded their payment portal to allow students to pay via social networking -- in particular, through their Facebook accounts.

Dubbed 'SmartClick', the payment interface has been merged with Facebook Connect to allow students and their guardians to process payments through their social network accounts.

Campus Apartments is one of the largest owners and managers of student housing, with over 32,000 beds in 24 states -- making accommodation available to over 70 academic establishments across the United States. Anyone with a SmartClick account can access the portal, and they do not need to connect with any 'friend' account; instead, to access the portal a user joins a Campus Apartments group on Facebook.

"Nearly all our residents and many of their parents are on Facebook throughout the day so this was a natural evolution of the portal," John Ailor, senior director of web and wireless technologies at Campus Apartments, stated.

The portal allows users to setup monthly automatic payments, credit card use, and also links agent and student together so maintenance requests and issues can be forwarded through the social networking site. Users can access the payment portal through Facebook without having to sign in with their SmartClick details.

In order to avoid social networking issues -- for example, confusing the access of parents and a student through one SmartClick account -- multiple users of an account do not have to be connected through Facebook. This possibility may have deterred students from linking their account if it meant parents could see the photographic evidence of last night's house party, even if it meant an easy option in paying the monthly bills.

Image credit: Screenshot C.Osborne