Facebook’s latest patent filing reveals plans for the social media giant to make shopping from third party suppliers through the messenger app, without being re-directed to a new site, possible.
The patent application, ‘Processing Payment Transactions Using Artificial Intelligence Messaging Services’ details Facebook’s plans to allow users to buy products simply by asking for them via the Messenger app.
The AI bot Facebook is proposing to develop will be able to interpret and respond to users’ purchase requests. To illustrate the intended purpose and simplicity of its proposed services, Facebook discussed the possibilities for users’ wanting to order their morning coffee.
Instead of downloading another third party app and pre-ordering their coffee online through a separate payment gateway, users could go to their preferred coffee shop’s Facebook page, request a coffee of their choice via Messenger with the chatbot, and then automatically have the payment deducted from their nominated card.
Facebook is already developing technology that would allow merchants to process payments in Messenger – tech which is currently in closed developer beta – with its proposed AI bot taking this tech to the next level.
According to Facebook, the bot would interpret and process consumer orders and requests by using natural language processing techniques.
“The commerce system allows the user to initiate a communications session with a messaging bot associated with the merchant using natural language,” Facebook’s patent application reads.
“One or more embodiments use natural language processing to analyse messages from the user to the messaging bot, and from messaging bot to user, to identify a product and a request to purchase the identified product.”
By using a chatbot, Facebook hopes users won’t have to be directed out of the chat or to a vendor’s external website – providing a simple, one-stop interface.
The company claims it is investigating this technology because “many conventional electronic payment systems have several drawbacks that often cause users frustration, confusion, and as a result, an unsatisfactory payment process”.
Other social channels have successfully integrated e-commerce functionalities that have helped boost online sales, including China’s WeChat. After developing its own e-commerce marketplace and mobile payments gateway the company reportedly accounted for 40 percent of the country’s boost in mobile commerce in 2017.
If Facebook succeeds in developing its AI chat-bot and Messenger payments system, it could potentially provide retailers with a more rounded e-commerce experience through customer service, search queries/results, and payments, making selling via social storefronts more profitable.