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Facebook Messenger Bots Can Now Accept Payments; Are Bots Overhyped?

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Facebook Messenger 2016-001

Bots, or a minimized virtual robots designed to perform specific online tasks can now accept payments. Over 30,000 bots currently under usage in Facebook Messenger have been empowered to receive payments from users, thereby stopping them from leaving Facebook’s platform.

This announcement was made by David Marcus, who is the Head of Messenger in Facebook at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016.

Major collaboration is currently underway between Facebook and various payment processing companies such as Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Visa, MasterCard and American Express for seamless payment process via bots.

Here is a simple demo of the process, wherein a user buys a shirt with the help of Messenger bot:

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This bot-enabled payment process will actually use the saved cards within Messenger platform to complete the payment, instantly.

Facebook payments using Messenger would be soon launched in India, and along with that, bot-enabled payment as well.

Earlier we had published an excellent resource to create a Messenger bot for any usage.

As of now, more than 34,000 developers have created 30,000+ bots on Messenger, which can do a wide-array of tasks which includes planning for travel, choosing gifts for your loved ones, highlighting the most viral news, and now accepting payments.

Besides Messenger, users can also use Twitter to order Pizza, besides getting answers for travel queries.

Other Major Changes for Messenger

Besides the new payment update, there were several new changes announced for Messenger.

a) Advertisers can now target Messenger as an advertisement destination, just like a Facebook page or a website. Hence, advertisers can select news-feed ads, and put the destination as Messenger, wherein the end-user would be able to chat with a bot or a real person.

b) Businesses can now highlight their whole websites inside Messenger window, so that the end-user is able to read the content without leaving the Messenger’s platform. The website needs to be aligned slightly, modifying the length and content to suit the Messenger window.

Bots Are Overhyped?

Meanwhile, David Marcus, the person who heads Messenger, has said that bots are overhyped, and way too much attention is being given to them.

The context was the usability and deliverability of bots in conducting complex business operations, which were earlier done by humans.

As per David, the bots received too much attention too soon, and it somehow created negative image infront of end-users, who started expecting too much, too soon.

He said, “The problem was it got really overhyped, very very quickly,” he said. “The basic capabilities we provided at the time weren’t good enough to basically replace traditional app interfaces and experiences.”

He admitted that the journey of bots is just a beginning, and a lot needs to be done.

Personal Opinion: I have used bots, and I do agree with David’s comments on it’s hype. A personal chat with a real human being can never be replaced with a bot, which is fed with some artificial intelligence to perform some specific tasks. Having said that, maybe the expectations are too great, and we need to slow down a bit. Bots can be effective wherein a fixed, monotonous task is being performed, say resetting a password or confirming billing address. But for specialized, human-centric tasks like recommending best clothes, suggesting the best movie etc can be never replaced by a bot.

Or maybe it is still too early to speculate.

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