The latest version of Facebook Messenger adds a new feature to the 30,000 or so chatbots that currently inhabit its platform. Starting today with version 1.2, those Messenger bots can now accept payments directly in the chat without sending users to an external website.
The feature was announced today at TechCrunch Disrupt by Facebook's Messenger chief David Marcus, who noted that the payments system will support most credit cards and payment services including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Stripe, PayPal and Braintree. From the consumer side, users will see "Buy Now" links popping up in relevant chats. Tapping the link will bring up a quick payment confirmation tab that automatically defaults to whichever credit card a user has tied to their Facebook or Messenger account. The feature is currently available for certain developers as a closed beta, but businesses and devs can still apply to be included in the test run before it rolls out to all developers.
In addition to the speedy new payment system, the latest version of the Messenger Platform also allows developers to pull in additional UI elements like quick responses, shipping notifications or flight updates, as well as the ability to make Newsfeed ads point directly to Messenger chats. Finally, there are some new share features that allow users to forward individual chat messages or invite friends to start their own thread with a particular bot.