Facebook Messenger bots can now accept payments from customers without making them leave the Messenger app, said Messenger VP David Marcus.
The ability to make payments is one part of the Messenger platform update to version 1.2 announced today. Before the update, merchants and businesses using Messenger had to finish transactions in a web browser or app. The ability to make payments within Messenger brings it one step closer to becoming a platform for conversational commerce like the kind practiced by WeChat in China.
Since Niki.ai started accepting payments via Messenger a little over two weeks ago, Marcus said, the Indian startup has seen a 10x increase increase in conversions compared to mobile websites.
Also new today: Bot ads will soon be placed in the News Feeds of Facebook users, Marcus said, extending the discoverability of bots on Messenger.
“This month, we’ve begun to roll out Messenger as a destination for News Feed ads. When advertisers select Messenger as a destination for News Feed ads, they can use any call-to-action in their ad, such as ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Learn more’ to link to Messenger. All clicks on those News Feed ads will directly open up a Messenger thread,” Facebook said in a post today.
More than 34,000 developers have created 30,000 bots since CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened the Messenger API in April.
The world’s largest social network and chat platform owner is working with several mobile payment companies, Marcus said.
“We’re working with almost everyone on the solution, so we’re working with PayPal, we’re working with Stripe, we’re working with Visa, with Mastercard, with American Express, and Braintree,” Marcus said onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
While onstage at Disrupt, Marcus also addressed questions of initial bot hype and how Facebook is working to make an ecosystem.
When asked about what was wrong or missing when the bot platform was launched in April, Marcus said it takes time to build an ecosystem and that Facebook’s first focus was to “put the stake in the ground and enable all the enablers, all the companies out there to come in and start building capabilities and use the API.”
“I think the problem was that it got really overhyped very very quickly, and the basic capabilities that we provided at that time weren’t good enough to replace traditional app interfaces and experiences, and so what we’ve done in the past couple of months is we’ve invested and built more capabilities,” Marcus said.
Several new features have been added to the Messenger platform since April to accommodate bots, including menus, cards, buttons, and carousels, as well as the ability to send marketing and subscription messages.
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