"But why hasn’t Facebook built its own way for friends to send money to each other using its virtual currency Credits? Because of significant fraud risks and its focus on making Credits work better for virtual goods purchases where it earns 30%."
"The primary reason Credits can only be spent in games and apps, not sent to other users, is fraud. There are several ways for users to earn Credits instead of paying for them, such as completing on-site offers, or making off-site purchases that are incentivized with Credits rewards through companies like ifeelgoods. If users could transfer Credits to someone else, the occupation of 'Credits Miner' would emerge. These people would earn Credits any way they could and sell them to others for more than they cost to earn but less than Facebook sells them for. This would essentially create a secondary market for Credits and undermine Facebook’s ability to make money on them."Mining for 'credits' is not necessarily a bad thing and it can tend to increase the overall demand for the nonpolitical currency unit. The so-called fraud (or unfair profit) can always be addressed by floating, rather than fixing, the exchange rate for Credits in the way that Linden Labs has done for the economy of Second Life. Constine correctly hints that the close partnership between PayPal and Facebook is what prevents Facebook from entering the payments business directly:
"To be competitive, Facebook would only be able to take a few percent on transactions, and still it wouldn’t have the base of merchants PayPal cultivated through eBay. Instead, Facebook is focusing on Credits as its platform’s mandatory virtual goods payment processor for developers, where it earns its juicy 30% cut. That business is growing thanks to gaming giants like Zynga, so there’s no need to move into a risky sector such as P2P payments that’s outside its core competencies and dominated by incumbents."While I believe that to be true for the moment, if Facebook were to address the fraud issue and the legal and regulatory issues of two-way convertibility, it would have an enormous opportunity that PayPal would not -- the ability to create currency at will and earn seigniorage.
For further reading:
"Virtual Currencies, Real Potential", Keith Button, Bank Technology News, November 1, 2011