In a recent Medium post, Kik CEO Ted Livingston elaborated on the company’s chatbot focus and its plans for an in-chat payment experience that serves to further its long-held ambitions of becoming a western equivalent of hugely popular Chinese chat platform WeChat.
It’s been slightly over a year since the launch of the Waterloo-based company’s Bot Shop, and the CEO says he is “more than happy” with how far bots have come in that time. According to the CEO, there have been tens of thousands of chatbots built for Kik, billions of messages have been exchanged and six chatbots have more than a million users. Monetization, however, is the crucial missing piece.
Making monetization happen
“At the moment, it’s like we’re in the period when Apple’s App Store didn’t have in-app purchases,” wrote Livingston. “In those days, there were few useful apps, and it was all but impossible to build a business within the App Store.”
Since then, multiple billion-dollar, mobile-first apps have been born on the App Store, the CEO points out. In its second year of chatbot platform development, Livingston wants to put a strong focus on building up that crucial missing piece.
“That’s when things get exciting, and we think it will usher in a whole new era for chat,” wrote Livingston. “The opportunity to be the WeChat of the West remains as wide open as ever.”
‘WeChat of the West’
Livingston first expressed interest in being the “WeChat of the West” in 2014, admiring how much more advanced the Chinese company was in comparison to Western chat apps.
Kik is taking inspiration for its monetization efforts directly from WeChat, citing its ability to add interactions into the payments flow. Livingston gives the example of reading a restaurant’s menu, ordering and then paying, all through a chatbot. The company recently held trials of that functionality at fast food restaurants.
Meanhwile, Facebook reportedly plans to launch a similar “native payments” service soon and Snapchat is building out a feature called Snapcash.
For his part, however, Livingston is confident Kik can nail the new service.
“We don’t envisage a way to just replace the credit card,” he wrote. “Instead, we want to unleash the power of chat to fuse interactions and transactions into a completely new payments experience.”
This article was originally published on MobileSyrup