Chatbots And Commerce

Chatbot Tracker: Is Facebook Messenger Becoming The Central Payment Conduit?

Since it burst onto the scene in 2004, Facebook has consistently been at the forefront of the social media landscape. In the 13 years it’s been around, Mark Zuckerberg and his team have seemingly been hard at work reinventing Facebook via adding to and fine-tuning its various offerings.

While initially Facebook was made only available to a select few universities in the United States, it soon spread to the public and then the rest of the world. At the end of Q4 2016, the social media site drew in 1.86 billion monthly active users and 1.74 mobile monthly active users, according to its company information page.

With the world’s population of approximately 7 billion people, Facebook alone represents nearly half of the world’s population, effectively making it one of the largest countries on earth. This gives the social media site a captive audience that’s likely to be loyal to the many company pages already in existence. As such, it’s no wonder companies are making the move to find new ways to reach those target consumers.

From opening up its user base to everyone outside the ivory tower to incorporating targeted ads, the social media company has made a real effort to become more than just a site on which to share activities and post funny memes. We recently reported about Facebook’s effort to become even more integrated with its users everyday lives through its chatbot Messenger service partnership with ATB Financial. Through this offering, ATB Financial’s customers are now able to process basic banking transactions like making payments and checking account balances.

Although ATB Financial is the first full-service North American financial institution to process payments via Facebook, it’s not the first company to implement the idea. In an announcement at the beginning of February this year, we saw Domino’s Pizza share its news that Facebook users can now order anything from their full menu via the chatbot Messenger application.

Dubbed “chat commerce,” this use of a chatbot to make financial transactions looks to be one of the next big things in the world of online sales transactions. Increasingly more people are seeking efficient ways to purchase or process money with minimal human interaction. This mostly all in part due to the increase use of connected devices. It seems as though the more connected society becomes, the more easy it is to integrate artificial intelligence technology, like chatbots, to help process everyday interactions.

With Gartner predicting nearly 21 billion connected devices by the year 2020, it’s no wonder the analyst firm is now also predicting that 85 percent of customer interactions with companies are set to occur without a human by the same year.

What does all of this mean for the future of financial transactions involving consumers?

For anyone with a smart device and a Facebook account, an abundance of information will be gathered to streamline transactions and to help provide a more tailored experience. The more convenient a retailer can make each touchpoint, the easier it will be to complete the transactions. As such, this may result in fewer abandoned online shopping carts and heightened customer loyalty to a particular brand.

What does this mean for retailers?

As we reported in January, a survey showed Generation Xers, or those in the age range of 35 to 49, spend nearly seven hours per week on social media, while millennials spend just over six hours. The bottom line for retailers is that there’s a way to connect with consumers where they spend a large chunk of their time.

With half the world on Facebook, the social media giant has a real opportunity to own the financial transaction space through its chatbot Messenger. Now although this may result in less traffic to retailers’ websites, it also means that we may see success metrics for the eCommerce world change over the next few years.

Given this research and the partnerships springing up with Facebook, we expect to see more companies following the same route as ATB Financial and Domino’s Pizza. It’s likely that 2017 will be the year to watch Facebook change the eCommerce game.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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