Facebook has launched a new service that lets you transfer money overseas directly from within its mobile messaging application. London-based startup TransferWise have developed a Facebook Messenger “chatbot” that helps users to communicate with businesses, complete online purchases or wire money to friends and family across the globe.
“Our mission at TransferWise is to bring faster, cheaper, and more convenient international money transfers to everyone in the world. Building the TransferWise bot for Messenger is a great step in that direction,” said Scott Miller, head of global partnerships, TransferWise.
Who are TransferWise? They were launched in 2011 by friends Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann. The company is backed by several high profile investors including Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, and PayPal co-founders Max Levchin and Peter Thiel. TransferWise operates in over 50 countries, overseeing approximately $1bn of transactions on its website each month.
Facebook already allows its users to complete domestic transfers of cash in the United States via its Messenger app, but this is the first time it has provided a similar service to enable international money transfers. The social media giant opened up its Messenger app to developers to create chatbots in April in a bid to expand its reach in enterprise transactions.
Advancement in artificial intelligence, together with the proliferation of messaging apps and mobile devices, are fueling the growth of chatbots. They became a hot topic in 2016, as they rose to prominence as an effective tool for brand engagement and interactions between enterprises and consumers. Enterprises are using chatbots to provide product or brand information, answer queries, make suggestions and encourage customers to sign up for promotions. Analysts forecast the global chatbot market to grow a further 37.11% during the period 2017-2021.
The mobile payments market is an extremely competitive one. Facebook and TransferWise will be competing against the likes of PayPal and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group for market share. Ant Financial Service, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, has acquired American money-transfer company MoneyGram. While earlier this month, PayPal announced its application Venmo would be available within popular chat service Slack. Mobile wallet and m-commerce are gaining popularity due to the rise of these easy to use mobile apps. Technavio forecast the global mobile wallet market to grow at a CAGR of 35.5% during the period 2017-2021.
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