Facebook is breaking an age-old business rule: Never do business with friends. In a bid to achieve profitability, the social-networking site is testing an internal payments system that allows its 300 million users to purchase credits redeemable for virtual goods, from Facebook itself or third-party applications. “Over time, this will be very significant,” one analyst tells the Financial Times.
Like competitors, Facebook has struggled to monetize its services, but this new system could represent one-third of its income, and experts predict independent developers cumulatively could make $500 million this year from applications. “Potentially, you’re looking at Facebook as a shopping portal and a source for music downloads,” a researcher said. “Control equals revenue.”