updated 04:35 pm EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Button limited to small and medium-sized businesses, built with privacy in mind
Less than a month since Twitter began testing a "buy now" button on the social media service, Facebook has jumped into the arena to offer its own "buy" button. The new feature is being tested with a small number of businesses as a way to drive commerce directly to those involved, without requiring people to leave Facebook to complete a transaction.
The new "buy" button is showing up on news feed advertisements and on pages for the businesses on the social media service. The button allows consumers to complete e-commerce transactions directly, without needing to leave Facebook to do so. The process routes through Facebook to a third-party for payment processing. Credit card numbers and other details aren't stored with the social media company unless a user chooses to share them with the social service.
"We've built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure," said Facebook in the announcement. "None of the credit or debit card information people share with Facebook when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers, and people can select whether or not they'd like to save payment information for future purchases."
Currently, the limited "buy" button test is offered only to small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. A Facebook spokesperson tells CNN that the number of businesses "can be counted on one hand." As for which businesses are involved in the button testing, the spokesperson declined to offer up their identities.
In the announcement from Facebook, one company shown was Modify Watches from San Francisco. Checking the company's Facebook page indicates that the "buy" button is in place.
Facebook isn't charging business to use the feature at this time, nor taking a cut of the proceeds from a sale. The company tells TechCrunch that "it was not disqualifying that option" if the program continues.