Facebook has announced Facebook Deals in the UK on Monday morning, with a bevy of retail partners keen to offer UK Facebook users a chance to get deals if they fire up their Facebook app on the go.

Facebook Deals (www.facebook.com/deals/) will launch in five European countries with the UK first to spearhead the new service for Europe, says Facebook.

“It’s word of mouth at scale,” said Joanna Shields, the vice president of EMEA at Facebook, explaining how the new service will work.

Facebook users will be able to check for places nearby via the Facebook Places feature within their smartphone app, and then see which place has a deal. Clicking on the shop, café, or restaurant will show the deal available like, “buy a coffee and get a muffin free.”

Users then just have to show that coupon to the shop when they place the order to get the deal.

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Launch Facebook Deal partners in the UK will include Starbucks (who are offering 30,000 free cups of coffee on Monday 31 January to kick start the new service), YoSushi (first 1000 diners today get complimentary food and drink for them and a friend), Mazda (Win 1 of 5 Mazda MX-5 Miyako's for the summer or get 20 per cent off), O2 (get a free Xbox 360 or PS3 with upgrade or contract plus 10 off accessories), Argos (£1 donation to Teenage Cancer Trust for first 10,000 check ins), Debenhams (Free benefit mascara and makeover for first 1000 people on 14 February), Alton Towers (Free entry on 18 Feb plus one night stay for first 100 people), Benetton (2 euros donation to Architecture for Humanity for every check in), and Usher (20 per cent off Usher's latest album and free re-mix of Hey Daddy). 

Others include McDonalds, Clinique, H&M, and Vodafone.

People want to say "Hey I'm at Benetton and I want to share that with my friends," believes Shields. "This is a very different offering to Groupon."

"We aren't aiming to kill Groupon," confirmed Emily White, Director of Local at Facebook.

In the US, stores like GAP have already signed up however only 50 per cent of retailers in the UK have opted to offer a second deal.

In the UK there will be four types of deals: Charity deals, Individual deals, Loyalty deals, and friends deals. 

“Today’s launch is a really big deal for us,” said Emily White, director of Local at Facebook before promising a series of dedicated features that are relevant to Brits.

Further comment on the new service came from Harriet Williams, head of digital development at Debenhams: “The ultimate tool for social shoppers, Facebook Deals will transform the way customers shop, making sure they are getting the very best offers from Debenhams, right when they need them. With over 60 per cent of our customers active on Facebook and 164 Debenhams stores across the UK, we predict a rush of keen shoppers will be checking into our stores and checking out our Deals.”

The idea is that people will use Facebook a lot more not only to check a friend's status, but also to save money. 

Facebook Deals is live now in UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy with deals rolling out for iPhone and Android users.

We've now had a chance to test out the service in a real Starbucks (Ascot) and have to say that it's incredibly easy to do. Our teller already knew about Facebook deals (saying they had got an email earlier this morning) and one check in later all we had to do was show the teller our phone and voila a free coffee was handed over.

Sounds easy doesn't it. That is until two of our Facebook friends whinged that they didn't really care that we sipping free coffee.

This is going to be the biggest challenge for Facebook. How to allow people to shout about the deals they are getting without alienating their friends. It's handy if those friends are nearby and can also benefit from the deal, but do you really want to see a deal your mate is enjoying at the other end of the country, or even the other side of the planet? 

There is also the case of finding the deal. Starbucks is the only shop near us that was offering something so it will be a case of checking your Nearby Places on a regular basis to see if there is one near you that you are interested in.