Facebook Messenger just moved one step closer to messaging domination. The social network no longer requires people to have active Facebook accounts to use its messaging app, Facebook announced Wednesday.
Now, when people in the United States, Canada and Venezuela who don’t have Facebook accounts download Messenger, they will see a new “not on Facebook?” option on the sign-up screen, which allows them to create an account for the app using their name and phone number.
All of the same Messenger features, including payments and stickers as well as voice and video calls, will be available to people using Messenger without Facebook. The main difference for non-Facebook users, of course, will be features that rely on your network of Facebook friends. Without a connection to a Facebook account, for example, the app will rely solely on your phone’s contacts to find friends on the service. Non-Facebook users also won’t be able to access messages on the web, since those still live on Facebook.com for now.
The company hasn’t given a timeline for when Facebook Messenger will open its new sign-ups to more countries, but it’s likely the company is using those markets as a test ground for the new standalone version of Messenger.
Facebook Messenger has come a long way in less than a year when the social network first began pushing its mobile users to the app. Despite initial resistance, Facebook has managed to rack up more than a billion downloads while adding payments, video calling, third-party apps and a suite of other features to the app that is increasingly becoming its own standalone platform.