Mastercard Develops Facebook Messenger Bot to Bring Digital Payments to Small Businesses in Africa
Mastercard has announced the development of a Facebook Messenger bot specifically designed for underserved financial communities. The bot will allow businesses in Africa and Asia to accept payments electronically so they can broaden their customer base and increase their profit potential.
The program will initially launch in Nigeria, a country where 98% of the economy runs on cash. Businesses do not have to make a large investment to use the service. It is available through their existing smartphone. Each business will receive a QR code and merchant ID that customers can then use to send money for transactions.
For many Americans, simply hearing “Nigeria” is a cause of concern. This country is often associated with Craigslist scams, fraudulent sweepstakes, and PayPal phishing sites. The scams are set up in different ways, but they usually involve a fake check or online money transfer. The recipient cashes the check under false pretenses or sends out a product without verifying that the funds are in PayPal. Then they get hit with a big bill from the bank, or they ship an expensive item without getting paid for it.
Could the availability of a Facebook Messenger bot make it that much easier for scammers to con their victims? Potentially, but unlikely. In order to use MasterPass QR, a business must first go through an extensive application process. Mastercard will review the validity of the business before approving the account. This service will not be available to “just anyone.”
Furthermore, MasterPass utilizes a tokenization system to protect payment card information. The business does not receive the actual card number, but rather a token that changes for each transaction. This protects the customer’s information from getting in the wrong hands.
Any payment system is susceptible to fraud, including smartchip credit cards and secure mobile wallets. Nevertheless, Mastercard has put programs in place to greatly reduce the chances of Facebook Messenger fraud.