Facebook Messenger adds buy button, native payments

In addition to getting customer support from Messenger bots, customers can now make direct purchases on the messaging platform.

Facebook on Monday unveiled a series of new tools that will allow businesses to interact with customers more directly and extensively through the Messenger platform, including a "buy" button that enables native payments.

The social media company brought bots to Messenger in April, giving businesses the ability to deliver automated customer support and content via AI. However, to purchase something, a customer has to leave Messenger and submit payment and shipping information -- even though such information may already be attached to a user's Messenger profile.

With this new functionality, consumers will be able to make payments without leaving Messenger. It's currently available to some developers as a closed beta, and the Facebook expects to roll it out more broadly by the end of the year.

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According to a blog post, "Messages with payments utilize industry-leading controls and financial information is protected with bank-level encryption." Companies can accept payments with Stripe or Paypal.

Facebook is also enabling companies to integrate payments into their own checkout page with Webview and Messenger Extensions. The Messenger Extensions Javascript SDK triggers a dialog in Messenger, allowing a company to obtain a customer's information to complete a purchase.

Meanwhile, to drive more commerce to Messenger, Facebook is rolling out ads in News Feed that drive users to chat bots on Messenger. Advertisers will be able to use any call-to-action, such as "Send Message," in their ads that take users directly to a Messenger thread with a copy of the ad or a configurable structured message.

On top of that, Facebook is also giving people the capability to share bots, as well as messages from bots, with their friends through Messenger. All shared messages from bots will include the bot icon, name and CTA that allows a person to start a thread with that bot. "This feature will help you reach the 1B+ people on Messenger today," Facebook said.

So far, developers and businesses have built more than 30,000 bots for Messenger, Facebook said.

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