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Instagram Is Starting to Take Payments—But Not for Products Just Yet

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Facebook’s Instagram app has in the last couple years become more than just a photo-sharing platform—it’s increasingly becoming a place for commerce, too.

Instagram already lets brands effectively put storefronts on the platform, where users can click on the items they like—at least, those with “shoppable tags”—and get taken through to the brand’s website to make a purchase. But now, Instagram appears to be working on ways to accept payments through Instagram itself.

As reported by TechCrunch, the Instagram payment system—already visible to some users in the U.S. and U.K.—is starting in the field of booking appointments and making reservations.

There’s a limited set of initial partners, one of which is Resy, a dinner reservation service. Later this year, it will apparently become possible to book movie tickets through Instagram, too.

The obvious future for this functionality is to meld it with Instagram’s shoppable tags. It’s not here yet, but Instagram would be setting the stage for it by getting its users’ payment data. As TechCrunch points out, advertisers may spend more money on Instagram if they know conversions can take place with as little friction as possible.

Other social and messaging platforms are also getting into payments, although mostly on a peer-to-peer basis rather than for commerce: see Facebook Messenger and Snapchat for examples. China is way ahead on this front, with Tencent’s WeChat already serving as an e-commerce platform.

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