Bots have slowly begun to creep onto the online payments scene, and they could offer a whole new, simpler way to part with our cash.
Payment gateways may end up partnering with giant bot platforms like Facebook and Slack. It would be an acquisition channel for payment gateways, meaning they get access to a bot platform's entire customer base and set of customer behavioral data.
In fact, France's Lydia has already teamed with Slack, making it the messaging platform's first payment bot for Slack. Users simply invite the Lydia bot into the channel, and when they want to transfer money, mention "@lydiabot." Users may validate the payment within Slack, or do the same on a website if they don't have the bot downloaded.
If payments gateways aren't lucky enough to join forces with bot platforms, what else can they do to stop from being kicked out of their own industry? They will need to begin innovating themselves, and create their own chatbots to be used with their own payment processing systems.
It all comes down to trust. Security is something that payment gateways and bot platforms are going to need to keep at top-of-mind. They're going to need to figure out a way to safely store credit card numbers and cvv, and how to send them to bots. They'll also have to verify payments — each transaction will have to be tokenized and a way for double verification, like SMS, will have to be found. Even more, banks will have to be innovative and understand where the payment market is headed — they'll have to be careful not to block credit cards when "unusual" transactions from bots have been made.
Plenty of big names companies are reaching out and preparing to take hold of the technology, if they haven't done so already. Facebook messenger, Slack and Telegram have paved the way as some of the biggest bot platforms, and Uber's integration with Facebook Messenger in December 2015 was one of the first big milestones for the industry, and proved bots would really take hold. Now Uber users can sign up and request a ride within Facebook Messenger, without even having to download the Uber app.
Bots are pretty novel, so paying directly in Messenger, or any other bot platform, isn't typical. Right now, the shopping bot Kip is used by a handful of retailers — like Zara, Amazon and Target, to name a few — and lets shoppers type in the item they want to buy. Kip will suggest multiple versions of the same item, but users are directed to the company's website to checkout on there.
Alternatively, bot platforms may become payment processors themselves, and payments gateways might well be pushed out of their own market. Although Messenger bots don't process payments for e-commerce quite yet, it's a likely next step. Facebook's Messenger app already has the capability to make transfer money — at the moment, Facebook advertises it as a way to transfer money between two individuals, for example to pay a friend back for lunch or send rent money to a roommate. All users have to do is add an American debit card to their accounts, create a PIN, tap the dollar sign, fill in the amount they'd like to send and tap Pay. What's more, Messenger's money transfer service is free.
Additionally, Apple that will soon begin to provide online retailers with an Apple Pay button, which will send verification to the iPhone or Apple Watch to complete a transaction. Further, iMessage in iOS 10 will feature payment apps that let peers transfer money between each other within iMessage, and even through Siri.
Conversational commerce has to develop before customers are really able to make all their most important purchases through bots. But, it likely won't take long — the market has already come far in the past few years. So as conversational commerce continues to mature, payments gateways will have to find their places in the middle of the frenzy — by partnering with bot platforms or innovating bots themselves — to really hold their own.
Lucas Jankowiak is co-founder and CEO of SecurionPay.com.