International money transfer service TransferWise Ltd. has announced an integration with Facebook Inc.’s Messenger that will let people set up foreign exchange transactions over the chat service.
London-based TransferWise launched the technology as a bot — a piece of automation software that understands natural language — within Facebook Messenger. The bot, which is free to use and doesn’t affect prices or rates offered, will talk users through the process of arranging an international money transfer with TransferWise.
The company, which was founded in 2010, is considered one of the UK’s most successful financial technology startups. It is backed by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Scottish asset manager Baillie Gifford, among other investors, and was valued at more than $1.1 billion in its latest financing round in May 2016.
Introducing: TransferWise Bot.
— TransferWise (@TransferWise) February 21, 2017
The bot will also allow people to set alerts to notify them when a particular foreign exchange rate they are interested in hits a certain level.
On Tuesday, the company confirmed that the service is available for payments to and from the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Europe. TransferWise also plans to expand the offering to all 50 countries — and 600 currency exchange pairings — that TransferWise supports.
In launching a bot on Facebook, TransferWise joins a growing list of foreign exchange and payment companies that are in the process of experimenting with sending money over messaging apps, which many people think will gradually replace standalone mobile applications as the primary e-commerce platform.
In August, TransferWise’s rival, Azimo Ltd., a foreign exchange transfer service, announced an integration with Facebook Messenger. PayPal Holdings Inc., Stripe Inc., Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and American Express Co. already have payment bots on Facebook Messenger, as well as the Alipay.com Co Ltd. Company based in China.
WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging service owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd., was a pioneer in offering chat-based payment systems. Facebook has made a major push to get payment services to integrate with Messenger in order to transform it into a commerce platform as well as a chatting tool.
TransferWise, which garnered attention with its promise to give customers the official mid-market exchange rate with low fees, has increasingly sought to become the international money transfer backbone for banks. Currently, it provides services for such transfers for the challenger German bank N26 and the Estonian financial services provider LHV Pank AS.