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Facebook Adds Payments to Messenger Chatbots

September 12, 2016

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergPhoto by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook is adding a new capability to dozens of chatbots that have been created for its messaging app Messenger—payments. Customers will now be able to pay for items within Facebook Messenger without having to leave the app to enter their payment details.

In April, Facebook (FB) started allowing brands and companies to able to build small artificial intelligence software programs, or chatbots, that interact with Messenger users. These bots will send and receive text, but also add images, emoji, and other rich content such as product carousels to let users browser merchandise options from a retailer, for example.

On Monday, Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus revealed that the social network is now allowing brands and companies to sell products within Messenger by adding payments services. That means customers can pay for items without having to leave the Messenger app. Facebook is working with Visa, MasterCard and payments processing companies Braintree and Stripe.

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Customers will see a “Buy Now” button that they can click on within the chat conversation that will lead them to a page where they can input credit card information, and shipping and billing information. If you have already added credit card information to Messenger, you simply click to pay.

It’s not surprising that Facebook is steadily making Messenger more of a hub for commerce, as the social network has been working towards this for some time. Facebook has boasted that more than one billion messages are sent between businesses and users via Messenger.

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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 Facebook friends. The idea is to let 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.