Facebook today enhanced its Messenger platform by integrating its payment mechanisms for chatbots with the most popular financial service providers. During an onstage interview at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, Facebook Vice President and Head of Messenger David Marcus said you will now be able to make payments from inside Messenger using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Stripe, PayPal or Braintree.
When Facebook announced its bot platform in April the company highlighted the capability to make travel arrangements and retail purchases from within Messenger, but you were still sent to external websites or mobile apps for payment transactions. The new changes, introduced today as part of Messenger Platform v1.2, mean you never have to leave the app to make a payment.
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Marcus dismissed the notion that bots are a fad, and said Facebook is committed to making sure they eventually live up to the hype. "It's not about bots, it's about how can you get an experience" by interacting with people, services, brands and businesses, he said. Messenger attracted more than 34,000 new developers during the past five months, and at least 30,000 related bots were released, according to Facebook.
The future of Messenger
With Messenger, Facebook is trying to build an ecosystem that enables the "fundamental things that people want to do when they talk to one another," such as one-to-one messaging, group conversations and the capability to interact with businesses, according to Marcus. During the last six months, Facebook invested heavily in Messenger's performance, real-time communications and instant video calling, Marcus said.
Messenger has a monthly audience of more than 1 billion users, and more than 300 million of those people actively use video messaging or calling on a monthly basis, according to Marcus. Facebook also wants to enhance the platform with voice-command capabilities for navigation and dictation, but it's not yet working on those features, he said. Group video calling is also "a pretty logical thing to build at some point," according to Marcus.
Finally, what will Messenger look like five years from now? "When you look at all of these entities that you interact with, it's bringing it all together," Marcus said. "Can you bring your daily life on Messenger in a more organized way, and actually have the best high quality, high fidelity interactions with people, groups of people, businesses, services and give an opportunity for developers to build a presence on a new platform and get distribution and adoption."