BillHero, a bank-agnostic bill pay app, now lets users pay their bills through a Facebook Messenger chat bot.
When users begin a new chat session with the bot it will ask which biller they want to pay, how much and when. Users then select a debit or credit card already stored in their account and the bot prompts them to verify a one-time authentication code delivered via text message. Only non-sensitive information, like the last four digits of the card, is exchanged over Facebook Messenger.
BillHero is one of a handful of companies using messaging platforms to engage with customers, particularly millennials. In June American Express revealed plans to pilot a Facebook Messenger bot for U.S. consumer and OPEN cardholders and Dutch bank ABN Amro announced a partnership with mobile messaging app WhatsApp, in which its new person-to-person payments app uses the customer’s WhatsApp contact list as a payment request channel (WhatsApp is owned by Facebook). Last year, Facebook launched free money transfers through Messenger for users who link their Visa or MasterCard debit cards.
The Colorado-based BillHero framed the offering in contrast to bank chat bots, which generally focus on providing information instead of moving funds. That's largely to do with security concerns for banks, some of which BillHero did acknowledge in its news release. (BillHero says it is part-owned by a bank, though it did not name the bank and did not provide an answer by deadline),
"We’re being cognizant of the security measures needed to safeguard our users’ data," Kelly McDuffie, director of engineering, said in the release. "We look forward to continuing our work with the Messenger team at Facebook to take advantage of enhanced security features and new functionality to our bot that will make for an optimal user experience.”
BillHero works with more than 7,500 major billers including PG&E, Verizon and Xfinity. The app also allows users to split bills with other users and send and receive money inside the app.