Facebook transforming into eCommerce hub, as CommBank shows off new banking app

Facebook will soon become an eCommerce hub, experts are saying, after the Commonwealth Bank yesterday updated the market on its plans for a new personal banking app on the social networking site.

This comes just days after a keen-eyed developer spotted a piece of code in Facebook that references a “want” button, to presumably be used in relation to products. The code even references the term “product purchased”, implying some sort of eCommerce functionality.

Telsyte senior research manager Sam Yip suggests both of these developments are the “next phase” of eCommerce on the social networking site.

“What we’re seeing right now is that people are becoming less risk averse, with regard to financial companies and credit cards, and so on. So online purchasing becomes a lot looser,” Yip says.

“People have become more comfortable with sharing their purchasing details online, and there’s a level of trust there.”

The Commonwealth Bank’s announcement is timely. Although it first confirmed the app months ago, it showed off more features yesterday, including the ability for users to do all their transactions, including paying others and collecting funds.

Users will also be able to use BPAY and transfer between accounts, while the social features of Facebook will allow users to request payments from friends or groups. These features are set to be introduced later this year.

Facebook has already become a type of hub for payments, with plenty of users paying for items through apps and social games. Moving over to direct banking with institutions is just the next step.

And buying products will no doubt follow. Earlier this week, developer Tom Waddington spotted hidden code referencing a “want” button, with actions that would allow users to share product purchases with their friends.

“The fact the code contains references to ‘socialcommerce’ is a sign that they’re taking it seriously,” Waddington told Mashable. “In the same way music, news and videos are shared on the site, Facebook is planning to allow users to share both wants and purchases, from items bought within games to donations.”

This would be a huge change for businesses. As Yip points out, being able to show products on Facebook, and then have users give feedback about those products would be extremely valuable.

It all adds to the growing amount of data companies are able to harvest using social networks, providing even more detailed analysis of customer behaviour.

“It’s not just about putting out a good product, it’s about sharing a product that people want,” Yip says.

“The company that’s able to show off a product, and then collect customer data associated with that and use it properly, will win in the long term.”

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