Facebook switches on bot-based purchases in Messenger

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Facebook on Monday announced that one of the key poles of its bot strategy, chat-based purchases, will soon take effect for users of its Messenger app.

Developers can now apply to participate in a closed beta, Messenger head David Marcus said at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016. Once businesses have bots enabled, though, they should be able to sell goods and services through Messenger, as long as shoppers already have credit card information saved with Facebook.

It's not clear which businesses will be the first to launch sales bots, but during an April press event, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated delivery orders through 1-800-Flowers.

Depending on how well it's implemented, the technology could divert some business away from Apple Pay. The latter can already be used in apps and at retail, and iOS 10 and macOS Sierra will enable it on the Web, a more direct area of competition.

iOS 10 is due to go live on Tuesday, with Sierra coming a week later.


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