Chatbots received a great exposure initially, but failed to live up to the high expectations everyone had of them. But someone believes that incorporation of just one thing may completely redeem our faith in chatbots, and that feature is “payments.” And that someone is none other than Kik CEO Ted Livingston.
Chatbots were supposed to mimic the way humans would interact with other humans during a conversation. This method could have proved to be a replacement to many apps, along with increasing customer’s engagement, however, many less examples of its success are available.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Kik CEO Ted Livingston said;
If I were looking at [chatbots] from the outside, I’d be saying the same thing. Right now, it is in a holding pattern until we get payments [but] we’ve seen so many killer examples of unlocking the world around you that we know there is magic there.
Kik is a Canada based company claiming more than 300 million registered users, however the count of active users has not been released. The company has been valued at $1 billion after a 2015 investment from Tencent.
Kik inaugurated its chatbot platform and dedicated stores last year beating Facebook. Kik claims to have produced over 20,000 bots since its launch. This means that more than 2 billion messages have been exchanged through bots. Livingston is satisfied with the performance, however, he has higher expectation from the future.
Bots as a format is working, we’re seeing the engagement and usage, but for me that’s not good enough, the question is whether we can turn bots into the next big platforms. Can we solve a problem that hasn’t been solved yet?
The basic purpose of inventing the chatbots was to automate the conversation processes or to relate business information at the other end, however, Livingston believes that the real future of these bots lie in the offline world, be it receiving orders in restaurants, or taking payments in a store or other similar stuff.
The question is often whether chatbots are app replacements? The answer is no. These technologies enable a new type of behavior that wasn’t possible before, interacting with the offline world.
Livingston believes that the current stature of chatbots are similar to that of Apple’s App Store, before the feature of payments was added to it.
In a post on Medium, Livingston wrote;
In those days, there were few useful or serious apps, and it was all but impossible to build a business within the App Store. A decade later, Apple pays billions of dollars to app developers every year, and multiple billion dollar mobile first businesses have been built.
Kik is developing scannable codes which would bring forth a bot with whom the user may interact. Facebook also added payments to its chatbots last year and is working on its format to make it more friendly. With a few more platforms joining hands, we may just see chatbots prove their potential soon.