Will Facebook tire of being glorified e-mail and become the financial powerhouse it could be? And just how many would invest in the Bank of Facebook?
The idea was put forth recently by Ben Kunz at Bloomberg Businessweek, but it's an idea that's been around a while. Earlier this month, NASDAQ predicted that Facebook would venture into the transaction realm, and last week the Web was agog at the idea that Facebook could be a PayPal rival.
So is it really a leap from marketplace to bank? Oh, hell yeah. Sorry, Kunz, but I buy tons of stuff at Target and Home Depot (for my real-life Farmville) but I don't really want to go banking at either place. Why? Because while many people, and businesses, can hack being a merchant, being a bank is a whole other entity. There's crazy government regulation, financial transparency, a constant showing of your books -- all things I don't think Facebook would like.
Yes, there's a tiny chance Facebook could create an offshoot of a completely online bank like Ally, but the likelihood is small -- especially when Ally's last quarter wasn't that great. Right now Facebook gets a 30 percent cut on any virtual goods or currency for doing (sorry!) virtually nothing. That beats anything the U.S. Treasury (and likely the stock market) has got cooking.
Still, if Facebook got into banking and promised a 5 percent return, I'd be the first person opening an account.