You'll soon be able to send cash to your family and friends using Facebook's Messenger app – here's what you need to know about the latest way to pay.

Messenger, which allows you to send private messages via your Facebook profile, will roll out its new payment function over the coming weeks.

It's dubbing the new service as an easy way to pay your Facebook contacts any cash that you owe them – meaning you won't have to log in to your online banking.

How does it work?

Once your Messenger app has updated to allow this service you'll be able to transfer cash during any conversation in Messenger.

To do this you'll simply have to click on the small blue + sign and a green payment icon will appear in the menu.

The first time you do this you'll have to set up your payment account and put your debit card details in – this will only work for debit cards, not credit cards or PayPal.

Your friend will then receive the cash when they set up their own payment account and add their debit card details. It can take up to five days to appear in their account.

At the moment this service won't work in group conversations, but Messenger says it is considering adding this function. It won't allow you to send money to businesses or internationally.

Messenger will also push this service when it recognises that you're talking about money owed, eg, if you say "you owe me £5" a reminder that you can transfer money via Messenger will pop up in the chat.

How safe is it?

You can search for anyone using the Messenger app (even if you're not Facebook friends) and send them cash, but a spokesperson said this service is only intended for you to send money to your family and friends who you know personally.

He said: "All debit card credentials are encrypted and protected with bank level security. Our anti-fraud specialists monitor payments, and in the rare case that we find unauthorised activity on an account, we'll work with them to secure the account again.

"Plus, since payments in Messenger use debit cards, as with any other debit card payment, if there are unauthorised charges, people have recourse with their bank. Finally, Messenger payments are offered as a regulated payment service, meaning they're directly subject to consumer protection requirements."

It's worth bearing in mind that if your Facebook account is hacked you should report it immediately, particularly if you have created a payment account within Messenger.

You can also report suspicious activity when sending or receiving money in Messenger. To do so, go to the conversation, open the 'actions' menu and select 'report as spam or abuse'.