The keynote at Facebook’s F8 developer event by David Marcus, VP for messaging products, showed how Messenger is becoming the vehicle for the social network’s commerce and payment ambitions.
Marcus announced the beta version of the Messenger Platform which means developers can build bots for the messaging app using a new API.
He also unveiled a number of bots which combine conversational elements with UI, buttons and videos. Some developers have already been working with Facebook. Previously announced collaborations included Uber, Lyft and KLM, the Dutch airline. Now lots more businesses are doing it too, said Marcus. Some examples shown off at F8 had a commerce flavour, including mobile shopping app Spring where Marcus purchased a pair of sneakers.
According to Engadget, other bots in the pipeline include Bank of America, which wants to use Messenger for real-time communications and alerts to its customers. Meanwhile, eBay is looking at using the messaging app for sending price alert updates to its users. And Shopify wants to use bots to provide customer support, as well as send order confirmations and shipping updates.
Quizzed on Bloomberg about whether much commerce was happening on Messenger, Marcus responded: “It’s starting. On stage I announced the launch of the Spring personal shopping assistant, which is a bot that will make recommendations and you can swipe through them and choose.”
Intriguingly, a recent media report said that the social giant might also support other commerce features, including enabling users to make in-store purchases, or buy items and then collect them from a store afterwards, further filling out its strategy. Messenger currently supports P2P payments in the US, its starting point for such services.