Having gathered up more than a billion users for its social networking service, Facebook has been steadily rolling out additional product and feature offerings to enhance its core product, broaden its appeal, and, ultimately, rake in more revenue.
Similar to virtual assistants from other big-name tech firms – think Google Now, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana – Facebook is developing its own take on the tool with one called Moneypenny, unnamed sources have told The Information (via Business Insider).
Taking its name from the character in the James Bond books and movies, the new feature, apparently for Facebook’s Messenger app, is reportedly already being tested by the company’s Menlo Park employees.
Though details are currently a little on the scant side, an interesting tidbit is offered up about how the feature might function. Instead of queries whizzing off to a server for processing as they do with Siri and others, Facebook’s could be dealt with by human assistants, The Information says.
Moneypenny’s uses may be more limited, though – at least at launch – as it’s thought the feature may be geared toward helping Messenger users find information on products and services, and even get help with purchases. In fact, it seems that it could function along similar lines to delivery concierge apps such as Magic and Operator, with users deciding on a specific product via a real-time text exchange with a Messenger assistant. With Moneypenny, Facebook could organize the order and delivery, and take a cut of every sale.
An early indication of Facebook’s interest in building e-commerce features into its messaging apps came last year when it hired former PayPal president David Marcus as VP of messaging products. Besides the expected Moneypenny feature, Marcus is also overseeing the gradual rollout of a new payment feature for Messenger, while closer integration with businesses was announced back in March.
There’s no suggestion about when, or even if, Moneypenny might roll out to users, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted either way.