Instagram’s New Payments Feature Lets Users Buy Products Via DMs

Today, Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder and CEO of Meta Platforms, posted on Instagram: “You can now buy products from small businesses and track your order in chat on Instagram in the US. Pay with Meta Pay and checkout in a few taps.” The post includes what appears to be a conversation between a person who wants to buy a surfboard and a person who makes and sells surfboards.

Meta posted some additional information on its Newsroom, in a post titled: “There’s a New Way to Buy Products on Instagram – Right in Chat”. From the post:

…We want to help people start conversations with businesses they care about and help them find and buy products they love in an easy, seamless experience, right from the chat thread.

TechCrunch reported that the new feature is called “payments in chat”. It allows an Instagram user to send a direct message to a qualified business they’re interested in buying from. In that same chat, they’ll then be able to pay, track their order and ask the business any follow-up questions.

According to TechCrunch, Meta says that users often chat about their orders with businesses via DMs on Instagram before purchasing but will now be able to pay sellers directly within their Instagram chat thread. Purchasing through DMs also gives users access to in-app chat support, Meta says.

What is “Meta Pay”? In June of 2022, it used to be called “Facebook Pay”, but has been rebranded to “Meta Pay”. In the blog post announcing the change it says: Meta Pay will be the same easy, secure way for you to shop, send money and donate to causes you care about across our technologies, including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as well as anywhere else you would have previously seen the Facebook Pay button while shopping online.

TechCrunch also reported that once a buyer has decided to make a purchase, the seller can create a request for payment. Once a user selects the “Pay” button, they will be asked to add and review their payment information and shipping address. The screenshot notes that “your payment will be processed by PayPal.”

If I’m understanding things correctly, in order for a business to sell products through Instagram, they must have their own PayPal account. That’s an extra step for businesses who don’t already have a PayPal account (or who prefer a different payment processor – such as Stripe).

I had a really bad experience on PayPal, and will never use it again. My concern with Instagram requiring sellers to go through PayPal is that a business’s Instagram account could become an easier way for scammers to find them. It is unclear to me whether the business will have to use PayPal’s system for reporting a scammer on their own – with no help from Meta.

While I can see the reason why some businesses on Instagram would like to directly interact with customers via DMs, not all of them will want to do that. What might be seen by some as a nice way to get to know some of their customers would be great. Unfortunately, some businesses are going to end up with the vile DMs that can appear on any social media.