Facebook Messenger as a business and payments platform
Facebook is now positioning Messenger as a business platform. This became clear at the company's recent F8 developer conference in San Francisco.
Messenger will become a storefront and a consumer and business platform for other mobile apps, and could help streamline business processes and customer shopping touchpoints. Users will be able to download within Messenger mobile apps from other providers and have their services integrated into a user's chat.
Users can turn their texts into songs or superimpose GIFs or animations in their chats. These sorts of user-level integrations are designed to give users more fun tools to personalize their chats, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at F8.
Messenger's future direction seems to be exciting for the commercial segment, developers and end-users alike. With Messenger as a business platform, all information related to purchases is contained in one thread. Users will be able to buy things from select online retailers, sign up for shipping updates via notifications, receive receipts, change their orders, track packages, manage loyalties and coupons, chat with retailers, and read peer reviews.
Zulily and Everlane are Facebook's early retail adopters.
Messenger's "link-to-debit card" capability opens up peer-to-peer money transfer for its users within their chats. With it, Facebook will be competing with a growing number of global players. PayPal has provided a way for users to send each other digital payments and China's WeChat messenger has similar functions. We expect to see more advancements in the U.S. as both payment processing companies and messaging app developers introduce more user and business-level features to their apps. Square and Snapchat are in this race as well.
We shouldn't confuse Facebook's peer-to-peer money transfers as mobile payments like we think of them with Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Facebook, however, has been experimenting with e-commerce payments via the use of a "Buy" button.
With a reach of more than 600 million active monthly mobile users, the Messenger as a business platform has the potential to make quite an impact. Users can't buy things from businesses directly on the Messenger app yet. The future, however, could certainly evolve to enabling users to do just that. Think of the tremendous potential of cross-pollenization of its Messenger business APIs across the m-commerce industry. The magnitude is certainly there.
Zuckerberg said Facebook split Messenger off to make it a more intimate, productive and better messaging product. Perhaps Facebook introducing mobile payments could generate a new era in m-commerce? But first, Facebook will need to ensure its infrastructure is secure and safe in all aspects of operations. Its partners will have to do the same too.
Alex Hum Alex is a partner from an international technology consultancy firm. He consults global clients to create and deliver Enterprise and Solution Architectures with rapid consumerizatons of information through innovative technologies.