Facebook is focusing on the payment business in a big way. The company made global headlines earlier this year when it filed its IPO at $38 a share. Even though the share has recently settled at around $19 per share, analysts now predict that online payment represents an attractive business avenue for Facebook.

Robert Sussman, co-founder and joint CEO of ZunguZ, the global multi-tier mobile payment platform integrated that is tightly integrated into Facebook, says that this is one of the fastest growing market segments within the broader ICT space.

“An article posted on Forbes.com specified that 15% of Facebook’s revenue last year – or almost $600-million – was generated from payments. That is a very interesting statistic because it confirms that more consumers connected to social networks are taking mobile payments seriously and more are looking to leverage off credible service providers. We expect the figure of social payments to double every year for the next five years,” Sussman explains.

ZunguZ is positioned to add value as the facilitator and service provider linking the consumer with the finance institution leveraging off social networks and social media.

Facebook has officially reached the 1-billion user mark, globally, and Sussman believes as the social network gains further ground, there is a definite opportunity to add value to consumers and provide an offering that can leverage off consumer behaviour and patterns.

“Service providers are aware of the opportunity that exists in this rapid growth sector. There will be no shortage of solutions and providers being established, and the consumer will have to be aware of what these “providers” are actually providing, at what charge and on what terms – these aspects need to be understood in order to make an informed decision,” he continues.

Research suggests that South Africa has 6.8 million Internet users and nearly five million Facebook users. “Our offering connects banking systems to the social graph and offers consumers a cost-free, instant and secure way to manage their finances. It is built with advanced architecture and has the level of security consumers would require to have confidence to engage online payment platforms,” says Sussman.

“While South Africa has been a pretty easy engagement for us, we are now spending time on larger markets such as South America, with 175 million Internet users, 370 million Mobile users and 125 million Facebook users”, comments Sussman.