Facebook will allow creators to charge fees to users through Facebook Live under a new service announced by the social media giant on Friday.
Paid Online Events will be available to those running Facebook Pages accounts, which are utilized by brands, businesses, public figures, artists and journalists. The service will allow those on Facebook Pages to promote, charge and collect payments for online streams.
“We wanted to make it easier for businesses to reach more customers and, ultimately, earn more money,” Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook App, said on call with reporters. “We have tested this product for a while and now it’s available in the U.S. and 19 other countries.”
One of the markets expected to use the new service is the fitness industry as trainers and instructors have had to shift to streaming platforms to connect with clients as gyms were shuttered — and in many places remain closed — due to the pandemic.
“This is going to be a game changer,” said Rachel Holmes, a prominent fitness business coach based in the U.K. “That’s what holds people back is the taking payments and the infrastructure involved. When this is launched and rolled out, it’s going to make such a major difference for fitness professionals around the world.”
Facebook will not take a cut of the fees for the new service for at least the next year. Simo took aim at Apple’s App Store’s payment policies that tends to limit companies using payment systems outside Apple Pay.
“During these times when businesses are struggling, Apple requires apps on iOS to use their payment system that takes a 30% fee on transactions,” Simo said. “For Paid Online Events, that means small businesses and creators will forfeit 30% of every dollar earned when they sell a ticket for their online event. We approached Apple and asked them to reduce this fee for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed our request.”
Simo said they submitted the Paid Online Event for Apple App Store approval on Friday.
“I hope it goes through,” Simo said. “We will know in a couple days.”