TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook is secretly giving selected developers access to a new software development kit (SDK) that allows them to build chat bots for Facebook's Messenger app. Citing "sources with direct knowledge of the SDK," TechCrunch says the SDK allows developers to build interactive agents that can assist with shopping, book travel, provide information and even accept payment for purchases. Bryan Hurren, Facebook Messenger's head of strategic partnerships, is said to be heading up the project.
Chat bots have become increasingly popular in Asia through apps like WeChat and Line, but they have not yet become popular in North America.
Facebook did not comment on the story.