Facebook employs several safeguards to protect your money and financial information when you send money through its Messenger app and the more recently launched Facebook Pay. Like anything online, however, there remains a chance that your safety may become compromised.

Cybercriminals and hackers can be ingenious, and that has led to numerous online security breaches at big companies. Facebook employs some of the brightest minds in cybersecurity to keep its users safe. However, a Facebook security breach in 2018 exposed the personal information of an estimated 87 million users and raised some doubts about Facebook's ability to protect its customers' data.

Here is what you need to know about using Facebook's Messenger app and Facebook Pay to send and receive money, what cybersecurity measures Facebook employs, and what you can do to protect your information and your money.

Key Takeaways

  • Facebook allows users to send and receive money through the Messenger app and Facebook Pay, free of charge.
  • Facebook's software plays the role of financial middleman between the sender and the receiver.
  • The company's software is also set up to provide security and protection from hackers.
  • Even with good security, users need to be proactive and employ cybersecurity best practices on all devices.

How Sending Money on Facebook Messenger Works

Facebook offers a feature that allows users to send and receive money through the site's popular Messenger app. Facebook's software facilitates the money transfer, acting as a conduit between the user's bank and the payee's bank. The software also gives the transaction extra layers of security to prevent hackers from compromising either party's financial information.

Facebook does not charge users to send or receive money in Messenger. Both the sender and the receiver must live in the United States, be at least 18 years old, and link a bank-issued debit card or PayPal account to Facebook or Messenger.

How to send money using Messenger

To send money through Facebook, open a Messenger conversation with a friend, click the plus icon, and then click the dollar sign icon. From there, enter your bank-issued debit card number or PayPal information, which may be stored in the app for future use. Lastly, input the amount you want to send and submit it.

You can send money to multiple friends through a group conversation. You can also use group conversations to request money from multiple friends.

How to receive money using Messenger

To receive money in Messenger, you must add a debit card to your account. First, open the Messenger conversation containing the money and select "Add Debit Card." Once you've added a debit card to your account, money sent to you will automatically deposit to that account.

You can only send and receive money with family and friends via Facebook Messenger—business payments can't be made.

How Facebook Pay Works

Facebook launched Facebook Pay in November 2019, making it possible to send and receive money across its platforms—Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp—and to purchase things such as games, event tickets, and items for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Instagram. 

Facebook Pay works much like Messenger and also does not charge fees. Users can link a bank-issued debit card or PayPal account, as well as major credit cards (a feature that Messenger does not offer). In the U.S. it is currently available on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram and will eventually be offered on WhatsApp. Facebook Pay continues to roll out in other countries too.

Facebook's Security Measures

With sensitive services like Messenger and Facebook Pay, many users wonder what kind of security measures Facebook includes to protect its users. The connection is encrypted by Facebook. Encryption is the process of using an algorithm to turn critical information—such as credit card and bank account numbers—into an unreadable format. Moreover, Facebook uses an additional layer of encryption for financial information submitted through Messenger and Facebook Pay. 

Additionally, when sending or receiving money, Facebook only shares your name, profile photo, and the dollar amount between you and your friend. The info the app asks to verify your identity is not shared. To confirm your identity and prevent fraud, Facebook may ask you to provide additional information, such as your legal name, date of birth, zip code, last four digits of your Social Security number, or answers to multiple-choice questions that only you would know. Because Facebook Pay also allows purchases, anti-fraud technology monitors purchases to detect unauthorized activity. 

Users who seek even more security can require a personal identification number (PIN) to send money. This prevents fraudulent transactions if an unauthorized user gets their hands on your computer or mobile device. 

Another security option specific to iPhone and iPad users is Touch or Face ID, by which the device analyzes your fingerprint or facial features to ensure you are authorized to send money.

More Tips to Keep Your Account Secure

There are additional measures you should take when sending and receiving money via Facebook to keep your account safe. You should only send and receive money from people you know and trust. Protect your Facebook account by activating two-factor authentication (2FA), which is a second layer of security.

Don't accept friend requests from people you don't know, even if the requests seem to come from people who are "friends of friends." Cybercriminals will hack into existing accounts of people you know and pose as friends in order to gain your trust. They might set up an elaborate fake online identity—a strategy known as cat fishing. They'll use Messenger to send messages requesting money. Facebook reports these fraudsters will use a variety of common money scams, including donation, lottery, romance, loan, and inheritance scams.

1.3 billion

The number of people using Facebook's Messenger app monthly.

The Bottom Line

Because this concerns the internet, no information is ever 100% safe, regardless of the security measures in place. Several large-scale hacking incidents have made some consumers wary of making financial transactions using their phone's apps.

While such high-profile incidents understandably make internet users nervous, the fact remains that the biggest security threat to your information online comes from failing to secure your personal devices. Be sure to password-protect your computer and mobile devices to help prevent unauthorized users from accessing them and wreaking havoc. And install a robust antivirus or anti-malware program to help detect threats such as keystroke loggers, which record the keystrokes you make to a log file that gets sent to an unauthorized third party.