Facebook announced that its Messenger users will be able to pay chat bots directly from the app, without having to launch third-party websites.
US-based Messenger users can already send payments to each other within the app. Until now, however, it wasn’t available for making purchases from online stores.
Over a Billion Messenger Users in 200 Countries, But No Bitcoin Yet
Facebook says over a billion people now use the Messenger app, in 200 countries. Over 34,000 Developers and businesses have built over 30,000 bots to interact with users and promote and sell products.
Unlike Apple, which now allows bitcoin payments via Circle in its iMessage app, Facebook has made no moves to integrate digital currencies.
Facebook Messenger payments are also available only to US residents. Users must be 18 years old and only Visa and Mastercard debit cards issued by US banks may be used.
Still Available Only to a Fraction of the World
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. To own one requires a bank account and users have to be 18 or over to have their own 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.
This is usually due to local regulations. Major economies like Japan cannot use either payment service despite their wealth, fast Internet and proliferation of mobile devices.
While it’s possible to purchase pre-loaded Visa debit cards in some places, these have to be bought repeatedly with cash – defeating much of the electronic payment system’s purpose.
This Is Why the World Needs Bitcoin
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.
Have you ever used a chat app to send Bitcoin? What was the experience like? Who would you like to see integrate Bitcoin next? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Twin Design via Shutterstock, Google Play, Apple emoji.