It is not an uncommon, or unreasonable, opinion in the tech sphere to believe messaging services (and their chatbot siblings) will replace the app economy in the not-so-distant future. The logic goes: to replace app overload, why don’t we centralise the service into one messaging system capable of connecting various companies?
While a truly centralised system is not a reality today, it is not especially difficult to imagine how the chatbots would work in the taxi, food delivery or logistics industry. A simple ‘request Uber’ command could have you on your way in no time.
P2P payments is another industry for which the implementation of chatbots logically integrates. Texting ‘Pay Bob ten bucks’ would certainly be a cool way to pay for a movie ticket.
For India’s Gurgaon-based P2P payments company, Mypoolin, the future is now.
Last week, the company, whose best comparison is Paypal’s Venmo, launched a mobile payments chatbot for its P2P payment service, allowing users to follow simple commands to pay people, check mobile wallet balances, see the status of group payments and remind people they owe money.
“Unlike the US, Singapore or any other developed countries, India has a very low penetration of bank accounts … If you are in touch with the Indian market, you would know that what really works are the mobile wallets,” Mypoolin Co-founder and Director Rohit Taneja told e27.
“So what we empower are, right now, money transfers from one wallet to another wallet over the chatbot.”
Taneja says the chatbot is the first of its kind for social payments and Mypoolin has filed a patent for the technology.
For example, a Mypoolin user simply inputs ‘transfer [amount] [account number]’ and after some processing the receiver should have the money.
Taneja says the beauty of the bot lies in its simplicity. Sure, developing a high-quality end-to-end platform may be a challenge on the backend, but he believes chatbots can be a game-changer because they are amazingly easy to use.
“Chatbots are a really fun technology and I really think they are going to change everything from customer support to feedback, from app development to app penetration. I think everything,” said Taneja.
Because Mypoolin handles money, security is a top concern for a chatbot. A racist chatbot is a public relations disaster, but when real money is being transferred, the service needs to be extra safe.
Taneja addressed this concern.
“The good thing about our platform is we did not start on the chatbot directly. The company has been [around], so the security has already been enhanced a lot. It is omnipresent across all the stacks, like the mobile app. Considering the chatbot uses the same set of APIs and applications, security gets added directly onto the chatbot,” Taneja said.
Plus, Taneja pointed out, Mypoolin is not a mobile wallets or debit card. Rather, it leverages those tools to make payments easier and companies like Paytm already have a high level of security.
Taneja says the bot is essentially a command line, and because the company has a built-up system, Mypoolin is able to ensure the bot is kept in line.
Diving into the technology, Taneja said starting a bot is not overly complicated because there are services to make it relatively simple to bring a bot to life.
The more difficult step is linking the bot to the server, which means designing the API to recognise mobile numbers, the amount, the time and the source of the transfer. After processing everything, the bot leverages a webhook (a method of altering a website or app) to let the users know the process has been completed.
Referring to the current iteration as ‘version 1.2’ Taneja hopes the chatbot can eventually work to understand more natural sentences and extract the commands via verbs, adjectives, etcetera. The hope is people will not need to adjust their language for the chatbot.
“The second learning was the feedback channel. So what happens is people say, ‘How do I know this will happen?’, ‘How do I know this will not happen?’, ‘Can I change command?’, ‘I would like to try this’. So it directly pings the team instantly and [asks] would you like to act on it?” said Taneja.
Mypoolin is hoping to launch its 2.2 version by the end of June.
In the meantime, it will be fascinating to see how the general public takes up the technology.
Photo courtesy of Mypoolin.