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Facebook Messenger's bots will soon take payments

Facebook's David Marcus discusses the near and far future of Messenger chatbots.

Facebook's David Marcus wants you to run your life through the Messenger app.
Erin Carson/CNET

Facebook Messenger bots can now support native payments, an executive said Monday at TechCrunch Disrupt.

This means Messenger users will be able to make payments directly in the app, without being sent to an external website to complete transactions, said David Marcus, Facebook's vice president of messaging products, at the San Francisco event.

The credit card info users have stored in Messenger will be used to instantly make purchases when chatting with bots. The feature is still being tested by developers, the company said in a blog post, but is expected to be available "more broadly by the end of the year."

Facebook is working with Stripe, PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and others to support payments in Messenger, said Marcus.

Facebook's been steadily tweaking Messenger. In April, the app introduced chatbots, software powered by artificial intelligence that can perform simple tasks. For example, the 1-800 Flowers bot lets you order flowers without leaving the Messenger app or engaging with another human being. Since kicking off in April, about 34,000 developers have made 30,000 bots on Messenger, said Marcus.

As more functionalities find their way to the app, Marcus said the long-term idea is to bring "your life together on Messenger in a more organized way."

Marcus also said Messenger has 300 million monthly active users of video and voice calling.

First published September 12, 9:45 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:12 a.m. PT: Adds more details on the new payments feature.