The Journey of Facebook Messenger: From a Struggling Chat App to a Prospective Key Tool in Banking

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger has only lasted for four but its success is tremendous. The app has grown so fast, overtaking older chat apps which started years before it was launched.

The messaging service is the second most popular mobile chat app after another Facebook-owned platform, WhatsApp. Have you ever wondered the secret behind the success? Today we are looking into Messenger’s journey since it was launched.

Launched in August 9, 2011 on Android and iOS platforms, Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service with 900 million monthly active users. An October 11 update extended the app to Blackberry OS. Currently the app is active on several platforms which include iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 10. The embryonic app struggled since then with a few users which prompted Facebook to announce the removal of messaging feature from Facebook’s main app to force people to download the app (Messenger). A number of users installed the app while others resorted to massaging via Facebook’s web application. A functionality which would be disabled in 2016.

To lure more users, Facebook added another functionality that allows friends to send and receive money through the app. unfortunately the feature is only active in the U.S currently. This was on March 17, 2015. On April 27, the same year Facebook Messenger got video calling feature. The rollout of the feature started in Canada, Belgium, Croatia, France, Greece, the United Kingdom, the United States, Nigeria, Mexico and Ireland among other selected countries across the globe.

Facebook Messenger received, perhaps, the most important feature on March 25, 2015. On that date during Facebook F8 conference, the popular social media platform announced that primary steps to introduce business to Messenger platform were in progress. The idea aimed at enhancing communication between people and businesses. In brief, the platform launched support for chatbots. Companies, therefore, can create bot accounts so that they can interact with Facebook users. So far countless companies have built bots for Messenger while countless others are still building more. Uber was one of the first companies to build a bot with the likes of CNN, Zork, 1-800-Flowers and weather services joining in the mix.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger in 2016

In 2016 alone Facebook has launched quite a number of features on Messenger.  Here is the list;

Group calling (April)

To compete directly with other messaging platforms like Skype that has established themselves in group calling, the platform launched Group VoIP audio calling functionality on iOS and Android devices. The feature allows users to add up to 50 members concurrently over the internet. It shows up as a phone icon in group chats. Try it out if you’ve never!

Opt-in end-to-end encryption (May)

Messenger adopted the controversial opt-in end-to- end encryption to provide users with privacy at the same time support chatbot operations. Messenger users can now toggle between accessing smart bot services and private chatting secured by the privacy protocol.

Disabling chatting on mobile web app (June)

Facebook disabled the workaround to chatting on Facebook from your phone without installing Messenger. Apparently, the company want to force people into Messenger which it says is destined for greater things.

Facebook Messenger

Addition of diverse emojis

Facebook launched the addition of over 1500 redesigned emojis that empowers women. Of course, the app version for Windows 10 has also been launched this year.

Now, Facebook Messenger bots are in contention to replace bank apps which are inconvenient and time consuming. Banks are now considering embedding commands in threads so that communication and transactions can be done via normal conversations.

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