Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk and WeChat are widely used but lack interoperability. This is a necessity if chat apps aim to be profitable.
Messaging apps have over 4 billion monthly active users (September 2016). Whatsapp, Line, Kik, Telegram or Wechat are some of the most popular mobile apps for consumers. With more monthly active users on messaging apps than on social media apps, messaging is poised to become the new foundation for building platforms and ecosystems.
eCommerce via messaging apps
Today Telegram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Line, Kik, and Google are adding new features to their messaging apps, enabling conversational commerce and ecommerce via chat apps. Messaging apps are now including corporate/brand accounts, advertising, browsers, chat bots and payments. The messaging platform wars have only just begun.
A panel of representatives from Google, Adobe, GupShup, paypal and Sprint at Mobile World Congress agreed on the topic that messaging and chat apps should strive for a certain degree of data exchange. “In the past, everyone built apps. Crappy apps”, says Matt Asay of Adobe. “Everyone remembers the saying ‘There’s an app for that.’ There is however no coherent data underlined. No data is ever being exchanged between apps, although chat bots need to be informed of my interaction with brands.”
Chat apps are evolving into multi-purpose platforms, enabling commerce, payments and advertising. WeChat is the unofficial leader in presenting a chat app that’s not only a chat app. It’s a platform that enables end-users to communicate, make payments, reservations and interact with various brands. WeChat combines the separate hotel and restaurant apps.
What WeChat does to its app, should be an example for other chat apps, says Mitali Dahr, Google’s director for Global Product Partnerships. “Theirs is a desire to put more services in one platform. But we have a long way to go, also if it comes to artificial intelligence. Chatting with bots is very different from chatting with a person, that has ways to go. We’ve got to educate ourselves to interact with bots. And, also, what if a bot goes rogue?
Paypal’s Harper Reed agrees that not only chat apps but everyone in tech wants interoperability. “It improves data exchange and user experience, which in the end helps to grow revenue. WhatsApp would have never grown so big if it was federated. If they were, the ecosystem would simply not be there.”
WhatsApp would have never grown so big if it was federated
As the meaning of messaging changes, chat apps are challenged to work together and exchange data on how brands interact with end users. This would be beneficial for the user experience, the panel agrees. “Open API’s, enabling commerce and payments within chat apps. Chat is the future of commerce”, they state.