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EDITORIAL Has Facebook created ‘messaging commerce’ and can carrier billing help?

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Facebook, still mired in the data scandal, is seeking to garner all the more positive headlinage this week with moves into dating and a revamp to its Messenger app – both of which have consequences for the telemedia sector.

The move into dating will see the social network leverage the fact that 200 million people on the site admit openly in their profile to being single. Getting them together makes a great deal of sense – and since we now know how fast and loose Facebook can be with personal data, they should have no trouble sharing their mores with each other (and myriad marketing agencies too).

Pledging to be all about the “long term relationship not hook-up”, it can only be a matter of time before Facebook hits another scandal when it becomes a hot bed of illicit contacts and lusty liaisons and something goes hideously and publicly wrong.

Here, rather than being a threat to the chat and dating services that make up a good proportion of the telemedia community, this could well be a boon. Either Facebook is gonna blow it, or it will be so strict that it really will be the place where people over 50 go, as is magazine Wired’s take on the move. Either way, the fun chat and dating will continue apace online, with Facebook only really impacting the big players in the serious dating market – and Tinder.

The revamp of its Messenger app is more interesting. Adding AR tools and the beginnings of Babel Fish like translation is aimed squarely at making both Messenger and the main Facebook site more of a retail destination. Messenger will allow retailers, merchants and brands to communicate much more effectively with customers and show them goods – using AR – in a rich and impressive way, driving them to buy the goods.

This sees Facebook finally leverage its massive user base in a really commercial way, outside of just being an ad platform. This now transforms the site, potentially, into a marketplace a la eBay and Amazon, capitalising on the links between consumers and merchants forged on the social side of the site.

The use of AR to make a much more compelling shopping experience is just the icing on the cake. Being able to translate messages ‘live’ – initially only between English and Spanish, but soon many languages – means that international ecommerce and marketing is suddenly a really easy and interesting proposition on the Facebook platform.

Altogether, this is an interesting use of messaging as a sales channel and it will be interesting to see how its impact is felt across other messaging channels. iMessage is already touting new tools to enhance business to consumer instant messaging on iOS and Google’s drive to get more people using RCS is also driven by the richness of B2C messaging. Facebook has joined this fray – and brought with it a platform for selling that is already being used by many merchants. This is an interesting development and one for anyone in the messaging and ecommerce spaces to watch closely.

It also has an impact on carrier billing. As more and more people start to look to messaging apps and actual messages to not only use as marketing but also as a sales channel, the more mobile payment tools start to become important.

Carrier billing, although not ready for use on real world goods, is well placed to be the one click payment for buying media and other digital content direct from marketing messages – be they from Facebook or elsewhere.

So, it is timely, that ROCCO (the Roaming Consulting Company Ltd) has published its Direct Carrier Billing Vendor Performance Report 2018 – Strategic Analysis report that lists the top 10 DCB providers worldwide for doing business with.

Facebook and others could do well to read it – soon they will be needing to get to grips with carrier billing as the worlds of messaging and digital commerce draw ever closer together.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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