Sci & Tech

Telegram Messenger Launches ‘Bot’ Payments

Bot payments in Telegram Messenger could disrupt payment companies in Iran
Telegram is the latest messaging apps moving into financial transactions.
Telegram is the latest messaging apps moving into financial transactions.
The company has not yet said whether it intends to allow peer-to-peer payments like China’s WeChat app

Digital payments through messaging applications is becoming big business across the globe and the latest to join the fray is messaging app Telegram, whose new update allows users to make and accept payments via Telegram Bots.

Telegram made its announcement in blog posts on May 18 directed both to 'bot' developers and the general public, introducing yet another way to ensure that you never leave the messaging app, Digital Trends reported.

The new system if launched in Iran could revolutionize payment systems, possibly disrupting other forms of digital payments like Point-of-Sale or even food delivery services of companies like Zoodfood.

A chatbot 'bot' is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Chatterbots are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition.

 “If you have Telegram 4.0 (or newer) installed, you can order goods or services from bots that offer them,” Telegram said in one announcement.

“These bots now add a pay button to their messages. When you tap pay, you’ll be asked to fill in your credit card and shipping information and confirm the payment. Then you get what you paid for."

To begin with, Telegram Bots already supports Apple Pay (not likely to be available in Iran), which promises an entirely seamless transaction process. The process works with two-step verification for users.

“Telegram is an open platform, so bot developers can implement the necessary programs and accept payments from users starting right now, without lengthy approval dramas,” the app says.

Unfortunately the test version of the app misses off Iranian payment methods like the country's SHETAB or Pardakhtam payment system, curtailing bot payments in a market where six out of ten people use the app regularly.

At present, most of the payments processed on the platform are handled by US-based Stripe, but Telegram notes that its new bot feature serves as a “platform for payment providers all over the world.”

If the firm can strike a deal with an Iranian escrow payment system it could in theory open up a market of 40 million people to in-app based payments.

Being German-based, Telegram in theory should be able to tie-up with Iranian payment providers in the near future, something WhatsApp and other providers will never be able to do because they are US-based and currently blocked by unilateral US sanctions.

Availability in Over 190 Nations

Indeed, once bot developers get to work, they can choose from among the entire collection of payment providers, and Telegram says that within the next few days, payments will be made available to developers in over 190 countries with various processors.

Yandex.Money and Qiwi for Russia and Payme for Uzbekistan will be joining the payment processors later, the website notes. No company is currently listed for Iran, but the website welcomes companies from anywhere.

Telegram says it will not become a bank and is doing this to facilitate such payments. “It is impossible for Telegram to handle complaints or cashbacks — any disputed payments are the responsibility of the bot developers, payment providers, and banks that participated in the exchange,” the blog post reads.

Keeping to its security-driven message, Telegram says that the app neither stores nor is able to access any sensitive data. And it does not take a commission from payments, or profit from transactions either.

The company has not yet stated whether it intends to allow peer-to-peer (P2P) payments like China's WeChat app, now widely used as an alternative payment system in that country.

If it does create P2P, it could likely disrupt the country's entire payments industry seeing the app's prevalence in daily life. 

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