Facebook plans to integrate its messaging services on Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
The plan was first reported in the New York Times (NYT) and is believed to be a personal project of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The BBC says while all three will remain stand-alone apps, at a much deeper level they will be linked so messages can travel between the different services.
Facebook told the BBC it was at the start of a “long process”.
While this is about messaging services for now, there may be repercussions for payments, banking and/or data down the line. It’s not clear yet.
For example, take a firm like Plum, which automates savings through a chatbot embedded in Messenger.
Also, there’s First Bank of Nigeria, which launched chat banking on WhatsApp through its partnership with Clickatell.
Plum and the bank may get easier access to more users. Just speculation at the moment.
Back to the latest development, and the BBC says once complete, the merger would mean that a Facebook user could communicate directly with someone who only has a WhatsApp account. This is currently impossible as the applications have no common core.
The work to merge the three elements has already begun, reported the NYT, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early next year.
In a statement, Facebook says there was a lot of “discussion and debate” about how the system would eventually work.
Linking the three systems marks a significant change at Facebook as before now it has let Instagram and WhatsApp operate as largely independent companies.
There is also the matter of how Facebook handles data. It has come under fire and repeated investigations over the way it has handled and safeguarded user data.
Back in August 2018, Facebook was reportedly chatting with banks as it wants to get them to join its Messenger platform and share user information in exchange for services.