Facebook Messenger is getting its own virtual digital assistant code-named “Moneypenny,” according to a report from news site The Information (paid registration required).
But where Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana focus on productivity, Moneypenny is actually a way to ask real people for help researching and buying products and services.
Facebook is testing it internally, and that name — taken from Miss Moneypenny M’s assistant in the James Bond series of books and movies, and most recently played in Skyfall by Naomie Harris — could still change before its still unknown launch date, according to the report.
“It’s also unclear what features the service will begin with and how exactly Facebook will fulfil requests,” says The Information.
It seems from the report that Facebook’s Moneypenny will have more in common with services like Magic or Operator, where you just text a person what you need and they figure out the logistics.
Those startups take a service charge on top of the cost of the goods delivered, but it’s unknown how Facebook Messenger will charge its 700 million users for Moneypenny, or how it will actually handle the delivery itself — it seems unlikely, but not impossible, that Facebook will hire its own fleet of delivery drivers.
Facebook Messenger, which is led by former PayPal CEO David Marcus, has been investing in making the texting app more of a shopping tool, though so far it’s mostly been for stuff like order updates. This could be a major new service from Facebook, and one of the only things the company charges its users for.