Courtesy of Facebook
By Leena Rao
April 7, 2016

Facebook’s popular chat app Messenger hit a major milestone today ahead of the social network’s developer conference next week. Messenger now counts 900 million monthly active users, up from 800 million users announced in January 2016.

Facebook (fb) also shared new stats around the frequency of messaging between businesses and consumers. The social networking giant has major ambitions of turning the app into a one-stop shop for commerce, transportation, customer service, and more, and now has businesses such as KLM Airlines, Uber, and Hyatt Hotels using the app to connect with their respective customers.

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The social network is taking a page from popular Asian messaging apps like Tencent-owned WeChat, which lets Chinese consumers buy items, order rides, and transfer money to WeChat friends. The idea is to let Messenger users do more within the app so they never need to leave it to shop, check on an airline reservation, request an Uber ride, or book a restaurant reservation.

Facebook’s vice president of messaging, David Marcus, said that 1 billion messages are sent every month between people on Messenger and businesses.

The next step for Facebook is figuring out easier ways for consumers and businesses to start these conversations.

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Along with the milestone announcement, Facebook debuted a number of new ways for people to find businesses and friends to start a conversation. Users can now share links for Messenger accounts. Similar to the way that each Facebook account has a dedicated link attached to it, Messenger accounts also now have a link where people can chat—me.me/[the user’s username]. A business’ or user’s Messenger link will show up directly on their Facebook page so people can click the link to start a conversation.

Facebook also said it debuted scannable Messenger Codes, which are a pattern of dots, circles, and dashes around a business’ or user’s profile photo. Messenger users can scan this code with their phone’s camera to start a conversation with the business over Messenger. Fellow messaging app Snapchat also offers a similar feature.

Lastly, businesses can now add Messenger greetings, which is a set message that will always appear in a businesses’ message thread before a message is sent. For example, a business could have a set message that welcomes any new customer.

All of these features are geared towards making it easier for businesses to communicate with users on the messaging app. Whether it be through commerce, customer service, or even purchasing items through the app, Facebook is adding an arsenal of features to help businesses start using Messenger as a tool.

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