By Ben Fox Rubin for CNET
Starting next year, you may be able to get more of your banking done on Facebook Messenger, instead of waiting in a teller line or on hold with customer service.
At least that’s what Mastercard hopes to do with a new customizable chatbot, revealed on Tuesday, that it created for banks. The bots will let consumers find out their checking account balances, dispute a credit card transaction or schedule a bill.
They are expected to be available in the US starting early next year on Facebook Messenger.
“As this develops, we plan to add a lot of other functionality,” said Sherri Haymond, Mastercard’s executive vice president of digital partnerships. “It seems like a very natural next step and we are leaning in here.”
While chatbots have been popular in Asia for years, they are just starting to come to the US market, with Facebook Messenger becoming a major platform for them. The promise of these bots is for people to text questions or commands using natural language, making it easier for folks to find information or buy things. The Mastercard bots are also another way the payments industry is trying to make paying for items and services more seamless, so folks don’t have to swipe their cards as often.
Along with the banking bot, Mastercard also showed off a customizable bot for retailers, which can be used, for example, by a travel agency to help someone book a flight and get their itinerary right in Facebook Messenger. Bots from retailers including eBay and 1-800-Flowers are already on the messaging app. Both the Mastercard retail and banking bots were created with Kasisto, a startup that develops virtual assistants and bots for financial services.
The new chatbots will use Mastercard’s Masterpass, a digital wallet that stores customers’ shipping and payments information so they don’t have to type them in for every new transaction. Mastercard has been working to build up its new digital wallet by making a handful of partnerships with retailers and banks. On Monday, the company said it will integrate Masterpass into Google’s Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Microsoft Wallet.
First appeared at CNET