facebook, messenger

In what could perhaps be called one of the biggest additions to the list of things, Facebook’s rather limited functionality messenger bots could do, they are now getting the ability to send and receive payments. Along with that, they’ll also be getting webview.

The announcement came via a blog post by Mikhail Larionov at Messenger. Payments can now be integrated into messages, making it easy for customers to shop and purchase without leaving the app. Messages with payments utilize industry-leading controls and financial information is protected with bank-level encryption. As of today, payments will be available for select developers in beta; businesses can apply through the Messenger developer webpage.

In a separate announcement at Disrupt 2016 in San Francisco, Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus said, that in a bid to support payments for its over billion plus users, Marcus further detailed that the social networking giant has partnered with almost every major online payments company. These include the likes of Stripe, PayPal, Braintree, Visa, MasterCard and American Express, among others.

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Another interesting addition which is set to make Messenger’s dull chatbots more interactive, is addition of Webview. The enhanced mobile website in Messenger will allow people to seamlessly enjoy and interact with a business’ mobile website within Messenger. Businesses and developers can customize the height of their website displayed within Messenger and use partial heights to create richer interactions in threads without losing the context of the conversation.

As a mixed hybrid of webview and payments, Facebook will also be simplifying payment and checkout experience for websites in Messenger. People can use their payment information stored on Messenger/Facebook to check out faster on merchant websites.

To make these chatbots more exciting, and attractive enough for you to be urged to share with your friends and family, Facebook is also introducing a welcome screen for these bots (isn’t that, like an irony ? I mean, being welcomed by a bot). When people start a new thread with your bot in the Messenger app, they will now be greeted with a welcome screen to provide more information about the bot, including the category of the associated Page, response time and capabilities provided on Messenger.

And of course, you can now also share these bots with your friends. Users can share any message with friends using the standard Messenger share button next to the message. People can also share bots with their friends using a share option in thread details of the bot thread. All shared messages will include the bot icon, name and CTA that allows people to start a thread with the associated bot.

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Messages with payments — as well as payments through the enhanced Messenger mobile web view — will be available for some developers as a closed beta. Businesses and developers can apply to be included in this beta while Facebook is working to roll out this capability more broadly by the end of the year.

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