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To keep pace with the ongoing shift toward e- and m-commerce, retailers are turning to chat apps, where smartphone users spend considerable time each day.
One way they've been accessing consumers on these platforms is through chatbots, or software programs that use business-to-consumer (B2C) text-based messaging as an interface through which customers can communicate with merchants in a question-and-answer format.
For merchants, these offerings are valuable because sales increase as customers communicate with and shop from their brand on more channels. But there's considerable friction — in chat apps, payments offerings are limited, which means users who might be browsing in a messaging app will still be redirected to another app or the mobile web to complete a purchase.
This is creating an opportunity for payments processors and card networks, which are beginning to partner with merchants to capture potential volume from chat apps. And as the hype increases, other payments firms, like remittance providers and banks are also entering the game, in the hopes of increasing user engagement or attracting new types of clients.
There's a long road ahead: We're just at the beginning of what's likely to be a long adoption cycle, with payments firms only starting to dip their toes into the space. But improvements in the ecosystem, combined with rising consumer appetite for these services and increasing trust, will eventually lead to moderate gains in usage that open up a massive volume opportunity for Western firms.
BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a detailed report on chatbots' role in the payments ecosystem.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Chat apps are the next frontier for digital commerce, but without payments functionality, the opportunity is extremely limited. Customers can — and do — ask for support, take advantage of deals, and browse many stores within chat apps. But when it comes time to pay, users have to switch to another app or the mobile web — a turnoff that could hinder adoption and lower conversion rates.
- Most payments firms are teaming up with retailers, often those they already count as clients, to enable customers to make payments using their mobile wallets or processing features within chat apps. That's allowing retailers to get to the space faster while opening a revenue opportunity for payments players. Others are taking less direct approaches, working to increase consumer engagement in a way that promotes more spending offline.
- We're at the beginning of an adoption curve, so digital payments providers shouldn't expect massive success quickly, but in the long run, it's likely to be a large market. As firms work to grow consumer awareness and improve the experience, the technology will eventually become mainstream, which makes getting in early and becoming established worthwhile.
In full, the report:
- Explains why the chat app is the next frontier for commerce, and why payments functionality is a linchpin of that success.
- Details different types of chat app payments and their potential use cases.
- Evaluates the hurdles that could prevent consumers from using chatbot payments.
- Suggests ways firms can overcome these hurdles and begin seeing adoption.
- Sizes the potential long-run market for chatbot payments in the West.
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