Facebook testing Messenger shopping assistant
Facebook is reportedly introducing a virtual shopping assistant app for Messenger it’s calling Moneypenny, after the desk-bound assistant to James Bond boss “M” who provides Bond with his latest gadgets, according to the Information.
The service is reportedly akin to similar assistant services like Operator, GoButler, Magic, or like daily shopping service ClosetSpace, which use real people to interact with and advise users when buying products.
That live-human element sets it apart from Google Now, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana, which employ algorithms.
Certainly, testing a service like this makes sense for Facebook, which has made no secret of its desire to monetize Messenger. In March, Facebook announced that it will be used as a customer service tool for some e-retailers, letting them send receipts and shipping updates through the app.
There’s a dearth of real information about this latest development (and Facebook has declined to comment), but a couple things about the site’s purported Moneypenny service stand out — its use of real people and its name.
Moneypenny's use of real people could be a gambit to set it apart from the likes of Google Now or Siri, but carries the risk of being cumbersome, ineffective, or expensive for both Facebook and the user. But it also carries the advantage of potentially being more fun and possibly more helpful.
And the name Moneypenny could be just a geeky homage, or an acknowledgement that younger people are more likely to be searching for help when shopping for electronics and geeky gadgets than for clothes.
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