With Facebook reporting involvement from approximately 34,000 developers, the business community is flocking to the Facebook Messenger acceptance of chat bots. Those thousands of devs have built more than 30,000 bots to answer Messenger user’s questions about which products brands have in stock or to find recommendations for something new. Unfortunately, they could never accept payments; that is, they couldn’t until now.
Facebook announced this development at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 conference that recently took place. The company’s head of
Messenger, David Marcus, noted that developer involvement has risen from 10,000 this past July to triple that figure, which has spurred even more involvement from Facebook as a service provider. Marcus and his team have now included PayPal and Stripe accessibility within Messenger, and TechCruch reported that American Express, Braintree, MasterCard, and Visa will soon be on board. Of course, what this will make possible is that shoppers will have the option of staying within Facebook for their entire shopping experiences.
Say that, for instance, a user wants to buy a new pair of shoes from his favorite vendor. He can use the brand’s chatbot to ask if they have the newest pair in stock, see a photo of the pair in the color he wants, and then place an order with his PayPal account. Confirmation of the sale will take place within the bot, so the user never has to leave the social media site where he has already placed his attention.
Marcus indicated in his talk at the TechCrunch conference that Messenger has received an update to deal with these changes. He said the previous version of Messenger only provided basic capabilities that, at the launch of chat bots, “weren’t good enough to basically replace traditional app interfaces and experiences.” This led to many developers thinking that their mobile apps could do a much better job of working for customers’ needs.
The updated Messenger version 1.2, now live, trumps its predecessor in many areas:
“Inside a thread you have identity, transaction capabilities, the ability to draw UI, and draw native buttons and interfaces,” Marcus said. “[We] bring all these types of experiences together.”
In the end, the update of Messenger coincides with updates that developers have sought since the launch of bots. They wanted payment features and now have them. And soon the other major payment providers should be on board. It will be interesting to see if this catering to devs’ needs helps grow the user base even more from its current standing of 34,000 strong.