The social networking giant has tweaked its chatbot platform with a suite of features
Facebook is rolling out the ability to pay for products directly within its Messenger service on Android and iOS smartphones, allowing people to make purchase without leaving the chat app.
Using established financial industry controls and what Facebook claims is “bank-level encryption”, users can store their credit card details in the Messenger app. Currently in at a beta stage and only available in the US, Facebook has plans to roll the feature out to wider audiences in the near future.
In April, Facebook added artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots into beta version of Messenger that can be used by businesses to perform simple customer service tasks for their customers, such as providing information about product within the Messenger app, without directing a user to an external website.
The new payments feature builds upon this the capabilities of chatbots allowing users to complete purchases through them while remaining in the chat thread.
Facebook has also added additional features to its chatbot platform, include giving developers the ability to insert mobile website content within their Messenger bots and for chatbots to have a welcome page to display to their users when they first start a chat in Messenger.
“We will also be simplifying payment and checkout experience for websites in Messenger. People can use their payment information stored on Messenger/Facebook to check out faster on merchant websites,” said Facebook’s tech-lead on the Messenger Platform Mikhail Larionov, who also noted that the tweaks to the chatbots allows for users to share them with their Facebook friends.
These new features will be made available to the some 30,000 bots created by developers for the Messenger app to date. By expanding the capabilities of the chatbots, Facebook will likely make conducting sales and customer service through its Messenger service more appealing to businesses.
Using chatbots and similar virtual assistants within popular communications services is becoming the vogue in the technology world, with Microsoft recently launching five new chatbots for Skype, and Cisco bringing in specialist companies to add chatbots to its Spark collaboration platform.