Some of the biggest changes to come out of the Facebook F8 were their announcements related to the Messenger app. Facebook appears to be attempting to make the app into its own platform, as well as a huge source of advertising revenue, by allowing businesses to use it to communicate with customers as well as allowing other apps to launch through it.
Messenger for Business
The Messenger for Business update is pretty huge, especially since it comes on the heels of an announcement that people will soon be able to make payments through Messenger. From what I’ve read, particularly from Investopedia, it looks like Facebook is going to try to challenge PayPal.
Essentially, people will be able to put in their debit card information and make payments through the app to friends. Right now, it’s in its infancy, so credit cards and prepaid debit cards won’t work, payments can’t be sent to businesses and only a limited number of people have access. However, I assume in the near future, most of those restrictions will have been lifted, in particular the limitation on sending money to businesses.
The reason that I believe that Facebook will move to allow payments to be made to businesses is due to their move to also make Messenger a hub for business and retail communications. Along with allowing businesses to send users messages indicating that packages have shipped and provide receipts, Messenger for Business will also facilitate communications with consumers. Everlane, an online clothing store, and Zulily, a bargain hunting site targeted a women, have partnered with Facebook already.
The potential benefits to business are huge. Using Messenger as a method of communication will help personalize interactions and may allow organizations to consolidate how they communicate with customers. For smaller businesses, this may eliminate the need to even set up a communications hub since Messenger could fill that need.
Additionally, partners will likely be able to tap into Facebook’s voluminous user information database, allowing them to improve their ads. For Facebook, they’ll be able to facilitate a greater number of sales as well as creating new marketing relationships along with collecting even more data about users’ purchasing habits.
Currently, the service is free, and Facebook isn’t taking a cut of sales. However, if it proves successful, and I think it will, that is probably going to change.
Another big move on the Messenger app front is Facebook’s allowing other apps to open through Messenger. This is already a rousing success, with NDTV reporting:
With 600 million users, Facebook Messenger is still behind sister-concern WhatsApp, but now the service is moving to become a platform for e-commerce, video sharing and more. Messenger will integrate with different apps – 40 are planned for a rollout in the next few days…
New Messenger specific apps can be found in the Discover tab, and some will integrate into Messenger while others simply launch from the app. Opening up Messenger to other developers is ingenious because Facebook will benefit from increased functionality as well as being able to gather additional data about users based on their interaction with these associated apps. For app developers, this is a great way to get noticed in an incredibly flooded market and piggy back off of the success of Facebook.
My guess is that in the not too distance future Messenger apps will be paired with Messenger for Business, allowing people to run shopping apps through Messenger and pay through the app as well.