Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty

In 2015 Facebook got into the money transfer game. Like Apple Pay (AAPL - Get Report) , Google (GOOG - Get Report) , Venmo and Paypal, the house that Zuck built gives you a way to send money among your friends.

It's part of the Facebook (FB - Get Report) total experience. As the platform grows, the company wants to connect its users with every part of their digital lives. You can browse connections, see the news, chat with friends and now do some business all on the same site. On the service's mobile side it makes the dedicated Facebook messenger significantly more useful, helping users who were annoyed when the company split its chat and core brand into two different apps.

So, you'd like to send a friend money on Facebook or maybe bug someone for their share of a bill. Let's talk about sending money on Facebook Messenger.

How Can You Send Money Through Facebook?

The nuts and bolts. How do you do it?

How to Set Up Payments

First, you need to set up a method for sending and receiving money. You can do this through Facebook Settings. If you haven't set up an account, the first time you send or receive money Facebook will ask you to enter payment settings.

To do this you will enter either a debit card number or PayPal (PYPL - Get Report) information. Money that you send will come out of this account. Money you receive will arrive there.

As part of this process you can set up a four digit PIN. This is optional, but helps secure your transactions. If you set up a PIN, Facebook will ask for it each time you send money.

How to Send Money on Facebook: Mobile

Launch the messenger app on your phone then start a conversation with your friend. On the list of icons above your keyboard there will be a "$" sign. Hit that, enter the amount you'd like to send (being very careful of typos), then click "Pay."

If your keyboard icons are collapsed, look for a "+" sign. Hitting that will expand your list of options and should add the dollar sign.

How to Send Money on Facebook: Desktop

Open a conversation with a friend. In the messenger window that pops up look for the "$" sign. Once again, enter the amount of money that you'd like to send then click "Pay." Once again, be extremely careful of typos.

While Facebook does not hold money in escrow, the banks themselves might take time to process this payment. Most money transfers will happen almost immediately but not all. In some cases a money transfer can take anywhere from several minutes to several days to clear. This depends entirely on the banks involved.

You must be Facebook friends with someone in order to send or receive money.

Is it Safe to Send Money Through Facebook?

Maybe. There are a few things to keep in mind before you send money through Facebook:

1. You cannot cancel or edit a payment once you've sent it in a message.

This is extremely important. Facebook does not act as a bank or holding company. It is nothing more than a processing service. As a result, your transactions are secured but not insured. Your money will get where it's going but you have no protection against mistake or error.

If you accidentally send $1,000 instead of $100, if you accidentally send money to Eric Reid instead of Eric Reed, there is no unringing that bell. To emphasize this point, here's what Facebook recommends in case mistakes happen during a money transfer: "Ask them to send the money back. Ask them to decline the money. … Require a password/PIN each time you send money so you can review your transaction before sending."

2. Facebook does not recommend using Messenger for professional payments.

Unlike PayPal, Facebook does not advertise itself as a business-facing solution. At time of writing, at least, they want people to use this as a way to split the check at dinner or pay friends back their share of an Airbnb.

That doesn't mean people won't use Facebook money transfers this way. It does mean, however, that the service offers no banking or business-to-business protection.

3. Do you need it? This is the core question. Facebook money transfer is, in practice, fungible with other social money transfer services (and there are so many at this point). It is an app that you open on your phone, pull up the relevant friend and punch in the money to send them.

That said, Facebook has two advantages over many (but not all) of its competitors:

First, and lesser, Facebook doesn't charge a fee. Many social cash transfers, such as Venmo, ultimately charge a fee for their service. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, you are receiving something of value… it's not crazy to pay for it.

And don't forget that with Facebook you do ultimately pay for the service, just not in money. Facebook vacuums up every scrap of data, including transactions with your friends, as its core business model. Whether this matters to you is another question, but just because Facebook doesn't charge you a fee doesn't mean it's free.

Second, and more importantly, Facebook does not keep your money in an account. While this is why Facebook can't undo a mistaken transaction, it's also the most useful feature of its service. All of your money goes directly in and out of a bank account. You never have to remember to pull money from your Facebook account or worry about hackers targeting it. When you send money, it comes directly from checking/PayPal. When you receive money, that's where it goes.

This is a significant difference in functionality that puts Facebook a reasonable step ahead of many of its competitors.

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