We take a closer look at the integration of payment services into messaging platforms in this third Messenger Update article, and consider if businesses will benefit as much as customers.
In our previous articles in this series, we examined how Google and Apple are leading the march on enabling businesses to communicate with customers via messaging platforms. Now, let us take a look at how they – and others – are taking a logical next step: integrating payments solutions into messaging apps, and examine what this could mean for a business like yours.
Google Pay For Android rolled out earlier this year – replacing both Android Pay and Google Wallet. However, it is less a new product and more a fusion of the two; enabling the purchase of goods and services as well as peer-to-peer transactions – which is rather nice for some two and a half billion people, or will be in the near future.
However, what is not obvious right now is if or how the new Pay app will interface with Google’s other recent upgrade: Chat – its Rich Communications Service (RCS) messaging platform, that functions in a similar way to other messaging services WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc., but uses network coverage rather than WiFi or 4G.
For both businesses and consumers, the integration of Chat and Pay would be an absolute triumph. Imagine an AI-powered messaging platform that allows your business to communicate, troubleshoot, sell, and accept payment from a single source! It is not that far-fetched an idea, so let’s presume Google have got this idea bubbling away in a Mountain View back office.
When Apple announced last August that it was launching a Business Chat app, it was already kind of late to the game. However, what the hardware giant lacks (on this occasion) in speed, it makes up for in functionality.
Apple Business Chat is finally out of beta, and as we reported in our previous article, not only is Apple Pay fully integrated, but it truly comes into its own with Business Chat. Plus it has solid encryption protocols, so for any business looking to get up and running with messaging services and payments right now, Apple Business Chat is the obvious choice. But it is not available everywhere, and is still only being used by a handful of companies.
Facebook already endured a good deal of criticism when it decided to split its messaging platform into a separate app. But a couple of years down the line and not only does Messenger have over a billion users in its own right, it has opened the floodgates to allow businesses to get on board, and is setting a precedent for easy-to-use mobile payment functionality.
But right now it is limited to peer-to-peer transfers; it is not set up for commercial transactions. That said, there is nothing to stop individual users from accepting payments on a business’ behalf – which could be a neat workaround for small businesses growing their presence online. And it is still only available in the US and the UK. For now.
Facebook’s other messaging platform, ad-free WhatsApp – which it bought for more than $19 billion in 2014 – has also developed a payment service. But like its parent company’s Messenger service, right now it can only be used to send digital payments to friends and family. However, WhatsApp is opening up to businesses – which may prove to a wise move as other platforms eye up the commercial chat space and its long-term viability.
mCommerce (mobile commerce) and mobile-optimised payment portals are nothing new, but the relatively recent evolution of ‘conversational commerce’ on messaging platforms is leading the low effort shopping revolution.
While it may seem that the big messaging services are dragging their heels in terms of actually aligning the required functionality into a single, workable solution, the fact remains that where money is concerned, encryption needs to be absolutely watertight.
Accessibility and security have never been on the best of terms with each other, but that is changing – particularly in the blockchain space, where it is possible to balance anonymity with the transferal of data. However, for now, forward-thinking businesses can rest assured that the full integration of payment services into established communication channels is well underway.
In short, the oven is on, but dinner is not quite ready.
Here at Mesaic, we aim to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to messaging services. Contact us to get more insight into how your business can benefit!