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Mastercard makes commerce conversational with launch of chatbot platforms for retailers and banks

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The rise of ‘chatcommerce’ continues. Not only has Amazon launched its Echo services that, among other things, lets shoppers tell Amazon what they want to buy, but Mastercard is now launching an artificial intelligence (AI) bot platform that allows consumers to transact, manage finances, and shop via messaging platforms.

According to research firm Gartner, nearly $2 billion in online sales will be performed exclusively through mobile digital assistants by the end of 2016. Mastercard will develop bots for both its merchant and bank partners, which will use chat, messaging and natural language interfaces to communicate with consumers.

With the Mastercard bot, partners will be able to have a true dialogue with consumers and provide personalised service, seamless user experience and contextual offers and rewards.

“At Mastercard, we believe that AI-driven conversations between companies and their customers can drive better customer experiences in places and platforms where consumers are already engaging in,” says Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, Commerce for Every Device, Mastercard. “Mastercard Labs has been testing integration of key Mastercard products and services within different messaging platforms. We are now moving this test-and-learn approach to the next phase by developing chatbots that are naturally embedded into a consumer’s daily life and help our partners stimulate business interactions that are more conversational.”

Mastercard Bot for merchants

With the Mastercard bot for merchants, consumers will be able to shop on messaging platforms and then check out with the Masterpass global digital payment service. Developed by Mastercard Labs, the bot enables consumers to start a simple conversation with a merchant and complete a transaction without opening their wallets, visiting the merchant’s app or waiting in line. The bot works across multiple verticals – from airlines to retail – and runs on various messaging platforms, making commerce more frictionless than ever before.

To accelerate development of conversational commerce among merchant partners, Mastercard plans to open up its experimental Bot Commerce API on Mastercard Developers platform later this year.

Mastercard Bot for banks

The Mastercard bot for banks will seamlessly extend Mastercard services to customers on messaging platforms and make financial information and decisions part of consumers’ everyday lives. In the pilotphase, Mastercard is partnering with Kasisto, the company that powers branded virtual assistants and smart bots for financial services and is a current participant in the Mastercard Start Path Global programme.

The Mastercard bot is powered by KAI Banking, a conversational AI platform with deep knowledge in financial services. It can fulfil customer requests and solve problems on messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and SMS, enabling financial institutions to create entirely new consumer experiences – ones that are as easy and natural as texting a friend. Starting early next year, consumers based in the US can ask the bot questions about their accounts, review purchase history, monitor spending levels, learn about Mastercard cardholder benefits, receive contextual offers through integration with Mastercard Priceless experiences, and get help with financial literacy.

“We’re excited to partner with Mastercard to help drive conversational commerce and engage with consumers where they spend their digital lives – on messaging platforms,” said Zor Gorelov, CEO and co-founder, Kasisto. “This bot enables entirely new experiences, bringing Mastercard benefits and offers to consumers with human-like conversations that are personal and contextual. We’re powering conversational commerce, anytime, anywhere – just as consumers have come to expect.”

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