How messengers create payment services: cases and practice
About two years ago, you can often hear the phrase “messengers are new social networks”, and in the info-field also was overwhelmed by a quote like «everyone you need is in messengers». This quote need to be proofed, of course, and the social network didn’t disappear. Facebook, despite regular scandals, is one of the largest sources of quality traffic, Vkontakte is developing and still has an audience in Ukraine, despite the legal prohibitions.
Nevertheless, messengers became the most important part of our everyday life: they are faster, there is no news feed in them. They give you exactly what you need — a connection with the necessary person. It’s clear that around a convenient tool, in which there is an active and useful audience, will arise some services of interaction with this audience — one way or another. Firstly, instant messengers opened their APIs to create chat bots. I already wrote about the benefits of using chat bots for business: the first line of support is the simplest and most effective industry. Our LeoBot case is clear evidence: instant messengers have payment potential. In LeoBot, we use integration with a secure Masterpass wallet. However, messengers are actively developing their own payment instruments or often complement customer communication experience with ready-made functions, turning applications for communication into a wallet and / or banking product. We will talk about such practices today.
Let’s start with the most obvious example — and with the one of the best. In contrast to the Messenger API, Telegram developers have created the most automated functionality for bots, creating bots, and even creating bots to create bots.Telegram Payments functionality works as a kind of layer between the mobile wallet of your smartphone (Apple Pay or Google Pay), in which you can also save card data, delivery addresses, and so on. The processing is on the bank or financial institution that issued a payment instrument and integrated the ability to pay for goods and services via Telegram.
Initially, Facebook has the most advanced API for developing bots — though to use the full potential, you still need developer assistance. The most obvious advancement is the launch of Facebook Pay, which I described earlier in a blog. It allows you to make money transfers without commission within Messenger. The Mark Zuckerberg company received a license to issue electronic money, which means it sees the prospect of turning one of the most popular products in this category into a financial instrument. There is a reserve for it, there is also an audience, the functionality in its primitive form is also here. And the potential for lending (especially in p2p loans) is huge.
Alas, our partners in Viber Out have closed their wallet. The leader of the Ukrainian (and not only) region in terms of the number of users clearly made wallet before the market the customers were ready. Their wallet was a useful product for those, who worked with Viber in terms of advertising, mailings, but could also pay for services. Well, we hope for his reincarnation.
Specific product, popular mainly in Japan. Nevertheless, they have adopted a model you may know from QIWI wallet — release of a special co-branding card with the bank. The path is complex, conservative. But the Japanese payment market is the same too, I think, it would be useful to talk about it in another article. This year, the payment service Line Pay will have a general balance with a physical bank card. This is probably the most effective way to enter offline payments without the need to embed NFC. But soon it won’t be very relevant, because all instant messengers and mobile wallets make more and more virtual not only money, but also negate the values of the physical symbol of a cashless — a bank card.
However, everything discussed above seems a pale shadow compared to the Chinese messenger WeChat, which can be called the “king of QR payments”. I also wrote about it in a blog, which was quoted an incredible number of times. In China, WeChat is something like a second passport and wallet in one product: you can register anything, pay where you want, croudfund money, etc. It’s audience is huge, and the payment options are endless. But only in the PRC. For now.
Why all this happen?
The reasons are the same — the struggle for seamless payment, caused by the refusing to give traffic to business, banks, e-wallets, etc. It is much more profitable for the messenger developer to keep the customers in app, creating the most comfortable ecosystem, and the business will come with the offer of cooperation. In this, working with users’ money in instant messengers is similar to working with content with its famous principle of instant articles. And this is only the beginning.