Mastercard is joining the Facebook Messenger gold rush, developing artificial intelligence chatbots for banks and merchants that allow customers to transact, manage finances, and shop via the platform.
The rise of the commerce bots is underway; according to Gartner, nearly $2 billion in online sales will be performed exclusively through mobile digital assistants by the end of 2016.
Mastercard is looking to ensure its place in the new ecosystem by teaming up with Kasisto, a tech firm behind the KAI Banking conversational AI platform, on its bot for FS firms, which will fulfill customer requests and solve problems, initially in Facebook Messenger before moving to other platforms.
Starting early next year, US consumers will be able to ask the Mastercard KAI bot questions about their accounts, review purchase history, monitor spending levels, learn about Mastercard cardholder benefits, receive contextual offers through integration with Mastercard Priceless experiences, and get help with financial literacy.
Zor Gorelov, CEO and co-founder, Kasisto, says: "This bot enables entirely new experiences, bringing Mastercard benefits and offers to consumers with human-like conversations that are personal and contextual."
Meanwhile, Mastercard is also building a bot for merchants that will enable people to shop and transact on various messaging platforms and then checkout with the Masterpass payment service. Merchants can start using the Mastercard Bot Commerce API in a sandbox later this year to help them develop Masterpass-powered bots.
"At Mastercard, we believe that AI-driven conversations between companies and their customers can drive better customer experiences in places and platforms that consumers are already engaging in," says Kiki Del Valle, SVP, commerce for every device, Mastercard.
Separately, Mastercard is teaming up with Fit Pay to bring contactless payments to wearable and Internet of Things devices. The pair will work with device makers such as Wearaetc, which produces connected watch clasps to enable smart device capabilities for luxury watches.
Part of Mastercard's Commerce for Every Device programme, Fit Pay claims that its platform drastically reduces the time-to-market, cost and complexity of payment and authentication services for wearable device manufacturers.
Says Del Valle: "The Commerce for Every Device programme puts in place a standard for expanding secure contactless and embedded payment options globally, and our work with Fit Pay and its set of cutting-edge device manufacturers will further help us meet merchant and consumer needs."