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Hello Moneypenny: Facebook testing digital assistant for Messenger

Facebook has once again shown it means business with Messenger, as reports started coming in of a digital assistant which could be embedded within the app.

As The Information (opens in new tab) wrote in a report today, Facebook is currently testing Moneypenny, a digital assistant somewhat different to what we’ve seen so far from the likes of Microsoft (Cortana), Siri (Apple), or Echo (Amazon).

As a side note, Moneypenny is the name of the secretary from the James Bond franchise.

The main difference between the abovementioned virtual assistants and Moneypenny is the fact that the latter is not virtual – it connects users to “real people” to help with "researching and ordering products and services, among other tasks."

This description suggests that Moneypenny is closer to a traditional concierge system than the recent breed of digital personal assistants, The Verge (opens in new tab) says.

A release date is not yet known, but what we do know is that Facebook is currently testing the service internally – the company’s employees are using it.

However, this is a clear sign in which direction Facebook wants Messenger to be heading. After splitting the messaging app from the native Facebook app back in April, it has given it its own standalone web app, added video calling to the service, as well as mobile payments.

Facebook Messenger can also be used to place phone calls, as well. There are rumours that games for the app are in the works, which is why the news of adding a digital assistant should not be too big of a surprise to anyone.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.