Ingenico doubles down on chatbots with IBM Watson technology

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One of the few bright spots in Ingenico’s sagging revenue performance last year was double-digit growth within its global e-commerce unit, where it’s been experimenting with chatbots.

IBM Watson will add natural language processing to Ingenico’s chatbot tools to provide a smoother experience for voice-based transactions, Ingenico announced on Monday.

Ingenico’s voice-powered commerce tools drove an 11 percent increase during the last quarter of 2018, and now the France-based payment terminal maker hopes to accelerate that growth with new AI-enhanced tools from IBM Watson.

The move is one of Ingenico’s first technology announcements under the leadership of former Visa Europe exec Nicolas Huss, who was appointed Ingenico’s new CEO in November 2018.
Ingenico is scrambling to find growth among a merchant stable whose business models are moving away from the fixed countertop hardware solutions that Ingenico specialized in for years.

Ingenico’s chatbot tools, in development since 2017 with San Francisco-based JoinedApp, are being used in tests with different companies to find the optimal user experience for a chatbot to accept vocal commands to initiate and authenticate a hands-free transaction, said Gertjian Dewaele, Ingenico Group’s product innovation manager, in an emailed statement.

“We’re seeing great success in these initial pilots so far and that’s why we wanted to expand the capabilities of our chatbots with the IBM Watson technology,” he said.

In May 2018 a Belgian bakery introduced a chatbot leveraging Ingenico’s payments chatbot for orders within Facebook Messenger.

Ingenico’s chatbot service with the enhanced IBM Watson technology is already live and the company expects to begin onboarding large global retail and travel merchants in the coming months, Dewaele added.

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