marcus, facebook
marcus, facebook

Facebook has just informed that users of its Messenger app will be able to pay for chat bots directly from the app, without any need to launch third-party websites.

While US-based Messenger users can send payments to each other within the app, it wasn’t available for making purchases from online stores. Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus informed about the payment features Monday at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 conference, while it comes together with the Messenger v1.2 update, released this week.

According to Facebook, over a billion people now use the Messenger app, in 200 countries and34,000 developers and businesses have built over 30,000 bots to interact with users and promote and sell products.

Nevertheless, unlike Apple, allowing bitcoin payments via Circle in its iMessage app, Facebook has made no moves on this field. Facebook Messenger payments are also available solely for US residents. Users must be 18 years old and only Visa and Mastercard debit cards issued by US banks may be used.

These restrictions highlight the problems still facing online payments and money transfers, despite advances in mobile technology and more integration between services.At the base of all these systems – Apple Pay, in-chat payments, etc. – lies the legacy credit and debit card network.

These cards are mostly available in wealthy countries. You need a bank account, be 18 years old or over to have such credit card. Even if bank accounts and credit cards are available, Apple and Facebook are rolling out their payments services slowly, one country or region at a time, mostly due to local regulations.

Bitcoin requires no bank account or identity documents to use, and has no age restrictions. Its “electronic cash” nature becomes clearer once users experience the ease of setting up a wallet and making a transaction for the first time.

For these reasons it should be the preferred option for mobile device users in unserved locations. Chat apps like Gliph have integrated Bitcoin payments for years, but haven’t reached mass-adoption levels yet.

It may take a generational shift rather than a technological one, but chat apps with a billion users will likely have Bitcoin payment features eventually. Apple’s cooperation with Circle is a start, hopefully Facebook will be next.

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