Facebook continues to evolve from a status and selfie central to a purveyor of virtual reality, live streamer and now, a source of eCommerce. Facebook Messenger has become a valuable resource for marketers, reaching one billion users in July, up from 700 million users in July 2015. According to David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging, 300 million people use audio and video calling features on Messenger every month.
During TechCrunch’s annual Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Monday, Marcus announced a significant change to how Facebook chat bots can turn conversations into revenue.
“Now Messenger bots will allow native payments,” Marcus said, using the example of a single Messenger thread to complete all of the steps of travel planning, from browsing flights to customer service and booking, all in-app. “Bringing all of these types of mobile experiences together is what will ultimately make the platform successful over time,” Marcus added.
For its new payments feature, Facebook is working with a number of companies such as PayPal, Stripe, Visa, MasterCard, Braintree and American Express, who recently launched their own Facebook chat bot. The payment tool allows users to complete purchases in-app without going to an external site. Messenger users can now use credit card information they’ve stored in Messenger to make payments via bots, as well.
“Messages with payments utilize industry-leading controls and financial information is protected with bank-level encryption,” explains the Facebook for Developers blog. “Payments will be available for select developers in beta; businesses can apply through the Messenger developer webpage. We expect to roll out this capability more broadly by the end of the year.”
According to the Facebook for Developers Blog, bot messages can now be shared with friends, as well. “We’re enabling seamless sharing of bots and messages from bots to friends on Messenger,” the company said. “People can share any message with friends using the standard Messenger share button next to the message. People can also share bots with their friends using a share option in thread details of the bot thread. All shared messages will include the bot icon, name and CTA that allows people to start a thread with the associated bot. This feature will help you reach the [one billion-plus] people on Messenger today.”