LIVE FROM MONEY 2020 EUROPE, COPENHAGEN: Participants in a session on P2P payments, including Azimo, TransferTo and Bitgold, were questioned on how they would cope if Facebook became a competitor.
Such a move would appear to offer a major threat to smaller specialist players. Facebook already offers P2P payments in the US and is thought to be eyeing more general availability.
The suggestion received a relaxed response from Michael Kent, co-founder of mobile remittance firm Azimo.
“It would be great to see what would happen. We need innovation to push things on. Facebook is looking at the next billion of customers.” Payments, along with healthcare and transport. is one of the key areas for consumers in the developing world, he said.
The social networking giant was previously linked to Azimo as a potential investor.
Pushed on whether the social giant offered a serious competitive threat, Kent said: “We want to make it cheaper, faster, easier to send payments. Facebook creates huge opportunities if others follow. PayPal’s acquisition of Xoom validated remittances. It can only be a good thing.”
PayPal acquired Xoom, another mobile remittance firm, last summer.
Meanwhile, Eric Barbier, the CEO of mobile money hub TransferTo, argued the arrival of Facebook could offer a benefit for wholesale providers. “I hope they come, they need us to push money to the likes of M-Pesa.” He said it was too time consuming for a newcomer to sign all the partnership agreements already established by the likes of TransferTo.
Most calm was Darrell MacMullin, the CEO of Bitgold, a firm which which allows consumers and businesses to send payments and hold savings with physical gold. MacMullin believes the current financial system is underperforming.
“Facebook is a huge player that is still dealing with huge inefficiencies, it will still need a more efficient transfer system. Bitgold can work with Google or Facebook. We can partner with anyone. Facebook still needs to sit on the central bank stack. We see it more as an opportunity to partner.”