With Apple pioneering mobile ID and Google now racing to catch up, a Meta executive is strongly hinting that the social media giant is also planning to venture into this new frontier.
In a new blog post, Meta’s Head of Commerce & Financial Technologies, Stephane Kasriel, revealed that the company is planning to rebrand Facebook Pay as “Meta Pay” as part of a larger rethinking of its role in the so-called metaverse. Much of Kasriel’s post is spent musing about the future of Web3, including the potential utility of blockchain technologies and Non-Fungible Tokens, and tries to offer a general sense of what kind of role Meta’s digital payments platform is going to play in all of this.
In so doing, Kasriel explains that Meta is aiming for simplicity and interoperability, and that its leadership “view this as a single wallet experience for people to use to represent who they are, what they own, and how they pay.”
To be clear, he says that Meta is “in the very early stages” of figuring out what that will actually look like, but goes on to explain that the early thinking is focused on “how you can prove who you are and carry that identity into different experiences in the metaverse; how you can store the digital goods you own and take them with you wherever you go; and how you can pay easily and with the payment method you want, whether that’s to a friend or buying from a business or creator.”
It’s just a vague outline, but it sounds at least analogous to what Apple seems to have in mind for its own mobile wallet platform.
Apple first unveiled its mobile ID concept last spring, envisioning a system that would let iPhone users store virtual versions of their driver’s licenses and state IDs in their smartphones. Almost a year later, that vision is starting to be realized, with Apple having officially launched its mobile ID in Arizona, where residents can use it to prove their identity at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
In the interim, the tech giant has quietly indicated that it plans to offer mobile ID utility for users “at retailers and venues”. Given that the mobile ID system is housed in the iPhone’s wallet app, and that it’s headed by Apple Pay and Apple Wallet VP Jennifer Bailey, it seems clear that Apple’s overall aim is to turn the iPhone (and other Apple devices) into a kind of identity and payments hub for users, one that could eventually replace the physical wallet entirely.
Google is now following suit, planning a revamped Google Wallet that will allow users to store vaccination records, IDs, and even digital car keys.
For its part, Meta is perhaps less focused on mobile tech than Google and Apple, but the mobile app experience is central to its most prominent businesses, including Facebook. As Meta continues to think about how Meta Pay will fit into Web3 and the metaverse, it’s fair to expect a consolidation of identity functions in a bid to keep up with Meta’s other tech rivals and their own digital ID projects.