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May 4, 2018

Instagram begins trialing in-app payments feature for faster shopping

by John_A

With more than a million advertisers and 25 million businesses now on Instagram, the latest feature to be trialed by the social media company will surprise few.

As per TechCrunch, a new feature for faster shopping is showing for select users. It lets you enter payment details into the app, along with a PIN for extra security. If you have the new tool, you’ll find it in your profile settings under “payment settings.”

Once set-up is complete, there are opportunities — very few at this stage, it appears — to use the feature to make advance payments for bookings at places like salons.

Instagram has confirmed the trial and says in future it could be used for a range of services, such as booking movie tickets.

While the popular photo- and video-sharing app already offers shopping opportunities via tagged items shown in an image, making a purchase currently involves navigating a pop-out page and completing various steps, including entering payment details for each new merchant.

But the new in-app feature is more integrated and keeps users within the app instead of losing them while they make payments via the merchant’s system. For users, staying in the app to complete a transaction will bring added convenience, and with payment details already stored, it’ll mean fewer purchasing steps with each business, paving the way for a more seamless shopping experience. Shoppers can also view a record of their purchases from multiple merchants in just a few taps.

Instagram signaled its intention in March last year to allow bookings for services directly from profiles, but at the time said nothing about native payments. And going by the company’s comments at the time, it seems that the testing of in-app payments has come a little later than expected.

But now that the trial is up and running, it might not be too long before it’s rolled out to the entire Instagram community, brands and businesses included.

Weaving commerce more deeply into social media apps offers potentially huge rewards for companies behind the apps, as well as those with products to sell.

Rival social media platform Snapchat recently started offering businesses the opportunity to sell products directly from a Snapchat filter.

Instagram says that more than 80 percent of its 800M-plus users follow a business on the social network. With numbers like that, the Facebook-owned company will be keen to build out its shopping services to draw in more advertisers and boost revenue even further.

Instagram hasn’t said when it plans to roll the service out more widely, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated with any developments.

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