UK fund supermarket AJ Bell is planning to launch a trading service on Facebook’s Messenger platform in a move to broaden its appeal to millennials. The broker said it intended to launch the service in the next three months, enabling retail investors to buy and sell shares through the app.
The service works by enabling customers to communicate with the platform via a bot, an artificial intelligence-based software program. As well as issuing instructions for the buying and selling of shares, users will be able to access their accounts, receive post-trade costs and charges, request quotes and access market data and research through the app.
The company believes that it is the first to enable the execution of a trade using Facebook’s Messenger app and it is also working on upgrading its system to allow retail investors to buy and sell funds through the platform.
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AJ Bell’s digital strategy director Tim Huckle commented: “We have created a secure authorisation framework between the Facebook Messenger platform and AJ Bell Youinvest”. Huckle personally piloted the service earlier this week buying £500 worth of Facebook shares.
Using the platform is designed to appeal to the 18-30 demographic which constitute the majority of the 900 million monthly users of Facebook Messenger. If it proves successful, the outcome could see the realisation of the asset management industry’s ambition to develop social media-based distribution networks for retail trading and software companies’ desire for greater commercial use of bot technology.
The announcement comes two months after Facebook opened up its AI tools to outside companies to encourage them to develop their own bots to communicate with Facebook customers.
Although the offering is still subject to approval from regulators and Facebook, AJ Bell has said that it does not anticipate any problems in this area because it intends to use the tool to communicate with existing clients, adding that “trading through Facebook is no different to trading through the website or through our mobile app from a regulatory perspective”.