First Free Story (1 of 3)Join Skift Pro
Taking another page from its counterparts in Asia, Facebook will add a feature for booking a ride through its messaging application. Users of Facebook Messenger in the U.S. will be able to summon an Uber car with a few taps starting on Wednesday.
The new feature for Messenger, which has more than 700 million users globally, will allow users to tap on a street address in a message and summon a ride. After booking, the app will let Uber customers easily share their estimated arrival times or coordinate splitting the fare with friends through Messenger. The feature is expected to be made available in other countries outside the U.S. later.
One place Facebook probably won’t introduce the Uber button any time soon is in China, where the social network is blocked. The Chinese have had a similar feature in Tencent’s WeChat, the dominant messaging platform in the country. That version works with Didi Kuaidi, however, a Tencent-backed ride-hailing service that is Uber’s chief competitor there. Tencent has blocked Uber from using WeChat to recruit drivers or promote the company in China, Emil Michael, the senior vice president for business at Uber, said in April.
Facebook recently added ways for people to send money to friends through Messenger and chat with a retailer’s customer service department. The company opened up Messenger to developers more widely earlier this year, paving the way for games and other services designed to run on top of the chat app. Uber made it possible for developers to connect their apps with its ride-hailing services last year.
—With Sarah Frier
This article was written by Eric Newcomer from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.