The new wave of banking bots?

Image: iStock/ipopba

Have you ever been out with a group of work colleagues at a restaurant or bar and got into an argument over the bill, or you’re trying to organize on office collection but no-one has cash on them?

Paypal has decided this is a common enough occurrence to do something about, which is why it’s launched its first bot, to let people send and receive money via business messaging app Slack.

According to the payments provider, all you have to do once the bot has been added is type /Paypal send (amount) to (Slack handle) in the desktop or mobile app and the transaction is made. So if you need to send $10 to Dave to pay back last night’s meal bill, just enter ‘/Paypal send $10 to @Dave’.

It’s currently available on the Slack App Directory to users in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, but if it takes off, it could herald the start of many such bots that can automate and simplify a range of basic transactions.

Paypal highlighted research from Gartner that predicts by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than their spouse as this technology comes to take over more and more of our lives.

Already, devices such as Amazon’s Echo lets users do tasks like order their favorite pizza via a voice command, so the addition of more tools that let people make payments with just an instant message or even a spoken phrase could be common as banks, payment providers and other firms look to make everyday activities as easy and straightforward as possible.

This may be especially the case as the volume of digital person-to-person (P2P) payments grows. Paypal noted that these features are among the most used parts of its offering, while between 2014 and 2015, the value of P2P transactions on its platforms – including Venmo and Xoom – increased by 42 percent.

In a world where convenience is the key for many people, we could be seeing a lot more of these payment bots in the coming years as the number of transactions continues to increase.

Written by Jack Dougal

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