Market Insight

Facebook pushes for Messenger monetisation with chatbot payments

September 14, 2016

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Facebook has introduced a second version of Messenger platform; it allows developers to integrate payments with chatbots and create web views into conversations without requiring users to leave the Messenger app. Facebook is working with major payments players including Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Visa, MasterCard and American Express to support its payments service in Messenger. At launch, the service is only available in the US.

Launched in April 2016, Facebook reported that its Messenger chatbot platform now has millions of people in more than 200 countries engaging with business on Messenger every day. There are over 30,000 bots on the platform and the it has worked with more than34,000 developers. The payment features within chatbots are still in development stage and it is not available to public yet.

Our analysis:

Facebook Messenger aims for monetisation with business communication

With 1.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s user based is an attractive platform for business to consumer communications. The new payments integration has benefits for both Facebook and its business partners:

  •  Integrating payment features as part of the Facebook experience should help businesses improve the conversion rate and reduce the friction of getting users to enter payment information.
  • For Facebook, the addition of payments can help it boost Messenger monetisation should it take a share of transaction fees, maintain engagement as users are not forced leave the apps, and potentially increase the value of advertising by bringing payments closer to the ad experience.

Facebook is not the only app innovating with chatbots

Facebook Messenger is not the only messaging app to offer payments or chatbots services.  Apps in Asia such as Tencent-owned WeChat already have advanced payments and bot experiences integrating within the messaging platform. Outside Asia, apps including Kik and Telegram have also launched chatbots integration. However, Facebook’s global scale and breadth of its services means its integrated experience will give it an advantage over its Western market competitors.

Developing mobile payments part of social media becomes new trend for e-commerce

In terms of payments and messaging, WeChat is a successful example of building payments and chat bot within messaging platform in China. It allows companies to build official accounts to send customised news, develop chatbots and link with payments services since 2013. Facebook is catching up with WeChat to become a platform for business. As WeChat mainly focuses on Chinese users and Facebook lacks the official presence in China, there won’t be direct competition between them. 

Facebook Messenger develops payments with chatbots to bring customers, enterprises and the service itself closer to form a stronger e-commerce ecosystem. Companies can create in-store shopping experience through Facebook Messenger’s platform to improve their online shopping services. Shopping while talking and sharing information with friends, mobile payments is becoming part of social media, this suggests the new trend of e-commerce.

Improved retail experience should attract more enterprise partners

The new update simplifies the user interface, making online shopping process simpler and faster by reducing the friction of users having to leave the app to enter payment details. The better user interface will encourage more users to shop online using Facebook platform. This will eventually attract more enterprises to move their businesses to Facebook and help Facebook increase Messenger monetisation.

US-centric launch highlights challenges of messaging platform strategies

Many of Facebook’s innovations are focused first on its domestic US market. Features such as voice and video calling and in newsfeed shopping were launched first in the US. Integrating payment services and securing retail partnerships can often only be done at a national level and so Facebook may have to choose which countries in which to target these new features, rather than opt for a global roll out.

Facebook Tencent
Research by Market
Mobile & Telecom
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