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Facebook Messenger gets international money transfers via TransferWise bot

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Facebook Messenger's latest chatbot makes it easier than ever to send money to friends and family around the world.

Facebook now lets you send money overseas directly from within Messenger. The feature comes courtesy of a new chatbot developed by London-based money transfer service TransferWise.

At present the bot permits TransferWise customers to send money to and from the United States, Britain, Europe, Canada, and Australia, reports Reuters. Facebook introduced domestic transfers via Messenger in 2015, but the TransferWise international option is a first for the popular messaging platform, according to the company.

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As is the norm for chatbots, the TransferWise system provides its services in a conversational manner, which adapts to your input — for example, if you get stuck, it will offer assistance. Users can also set up exchange rate alerts for as many currencies as they wish; the bot will then send you an update every morning and evening. Messenger users can access the bot by searching for it via the app.

“Our mission at TransferWise is to bring faster, cheaper, and more convenient international money transfers to everyone in the world. Building the TransferWise bot for Messenger is a great step in that direction,” said Scott Miller, head of global partnerships, TransferWise.

Launched in 2011, TransferWise promises lower fees than banks and traditional services on overseas transfers due to its novel process. Its approach does not actually involve transferring money internationally — instead it pairs you up with an identical payment from the country you’re in. Therefore, your money never actually goes abroad, it’s just redirected to someone who’s being transferred a similar amount by someone overseas.

The company now includes customers in more than 50 countries that send almost $1 billion through its service every month. It also counts two Facebook board members — PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen — among its investors, along with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.

The TransferWise Messenger chatbot was built using the company’s application programming interface (API). TransferWise is hoping to eventually bring the feature to more messaging apps, and to add more countries to its money transfers list for Messenger.

“[The bot is] also a powerful example of how our API can be used to seamlessly integrate TransferWise into almost any messaging, bank, or business payment system,” Miller added.