Transactional services in messaging apps

Facebook Messenger recently announced that it has partnered with Uber to let Messenger users order Uber cars from within the Messenger app. The company is taking a page out of the playbook of WeChat, China’s largest messaging app that lets users engage in transactional services from within its app.

This is likely the first of many transactional services that will be made available on Facebook Messenger. For example, WeChat also lets its users order food, book doctor appointments, check in to flights, and send money to their friends from within its app. In doing so, messenger services help transactional apps gain direct exposure to hundreds of millions of users. In exchange, they have the opportunity to earn revenue for the exposure that they’re providing each app. This effectively transforms them into alternatives for Apple and Android’s app stores.

Most transactional services, like ordering cars and food, are local in nature. Messenger services need to partner with local players in each market to offer their users access to these services. This is why Facebook’s partnership with Uber in the US currently isn’t reflected when a user launches the Messenger app in Turkey. I can’t order a car as a Messenger user in Turkey.

It will be interesting to see whether global messaging apps will establish partnerships with the leading transactional service providers in Turkey before a local messaging app does. Bip is likely the leading candidate for the latter. Their Discover feature, which I’ve shared screenshots of below, suggests that they’re aware of the opportunity.

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