Facebook is enabling chat bots on its Messenger chat platform to accept payments without bouncing users out to a third party site for the first time.
Limited to the US and still in beta for now, the move is aimed at helping businesses sell products and services to customers from inside the messaging app.
Facebook says messages with payments are protected with “bank-level” encryption to keep personal financial data safe.
Companies that want to take part in the pilot can apply through the firm’s Messenger developer page and Facebook says it aims to have this feature more widely available by the end of the year.
Facebook announced the move at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco this week.
Speaking at the event, Facebook head of Messenger David Marcus provided fresh numbers for its bot platform. He said some 34,000 developers have now joined the platform and have built 30,000 bots to date.
The service will integrate with payments processors including Stripe and PayPal as well as Braintree, MasterCard, Visa and American Express.
With more than 1bn people using Facebook’s Messenger platform, the social network is looking to capture a corner of the booming mobile commerce industry.
It will also be looking to replicate the success of Asian players like WeChat and LINE, which let customers pay for everything from beauty products to insurance from inside their messaging apps.
It’s no secret that customers increasingly prefer to use mobile banking apps to manage their cash ‘on-the-go’ over online banking.
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