If you’re one of the two billion monthly active users on Facebook, the chances are you’ve used its instant messaging service Messenger too.
Messenger launched in 2008, and was originally known as Facebook Chat before revamping as Facebook Messenger in 2010. Since then, a lot has changed with the arrival of standalone apps, stickers, GIFs, video calls and even games. So, what’s next? Quite a lot according to David Marcus, Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook, who revealed a number of interesting points…
Expect to see more ‘bots’
Although most people don’t like the name, ‘bots’ are on the up. Bots are automated Messenger contacts that answer your questions like a human, except it’s actually a computer replying to you.
“There are about two billion messages that are exchanged between business services and people every month on Messenger, and that number has doubled in a year,” Marcus explained, adding that the figure includes automation and human interaction.
Seeing as many people already use Facebook, bots are seen as an easy way to provide them with information about products and services. An astonishing 100,000 bots or so are automated: examples include Transport for London which provides information about Tubes and buses, and Pizza Express, which allows you to book a table.
Banking through Messenger
American Express is already providing support to customers in the US through Messenger by offering alerts about their spending, but this looks to be just the beginning.
“All of the financial service companies are now building for Messenger, whether it’s insurance companies, credit card companies or banks,” he continued, citing Aviva as a brand looking into chat bots.
“Financial services are a great use for Messenger because those are the types of notifications you actually do want to get on a regular basis.”
Messenger Lite is coming to the UK
While most of us love lots of new features, others prefer pure no-thrills messaging, especially extra features can use up more data and potentially slow down your smartphone.
“We do need to rationalise and simplify, so we’ve started this process,” said Marcus.
“Last month, we revamped the look and feel of Messenger but that’s the first of many steps to come to simplify and rationalise the experience we’ve built.”
Facebook originally produced Facebook Lite for countries across the globe without 3G or 4G connections, but excluded the likes of the US and the UK from the original release - but that now looks set to change very soon with an imminent launch.
Purchases through Messenger could come to the UK
Peer to peer (P2P) payments via Messenger already happen in the US, and users can send money from one person to another and make purchases using the service. Marcus revealed that Facebook is now looking to expand the service globally.
“It’s not only in our hands, as you know we have to work with banks and financial institutions to get this done - but hopefully we’ll have news at some point in the next 12 months or so,” he revealed.