Singapore’s Zopim to power Facebook Messenger’s Business app

TECHINASIA: Facebook woke up the internet industry when it announced that its popular Messenger app, one of the world’s largest chat apps with 600 million active users, will open up to third-party developers. The move emulates the recipe that brought Asian chat apps Line and WeChat into prominence as platform businesses. Announced on the same day (though overshadowed) was the news about Businesses on Messenger, an upcoming feature on the app that allows users to chat with businesses on customer support matters. Singapore startup Zopim, acquired last year by customer support software company Zendesk for US$30 million, will power the feature.

To start chatting with a company, let’s say an online retailer, users can click a button on the retailer’s website to initiate a conversation in Messenger. The customer will receive updates on the shipping status, ask questions and receive answers, and modify order requests. All of this flows on a single thread.

Zopim says it will partner Facebook to “power the initial companies on Businesses on Messenger” by integrating its software with the chat app. In other words, businesses can use existing Zopim apps to communicate with Messenger users. Zopim didn’t elaborate on what will happen after the “initial” stage, so its competitors can potentially create similar integrations with Messenger in the future. Zopim declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.

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