American Express Is the First Financial Institution to Make a Facebook Messenger Bot

Will help card members keep tabs on purchases

Add American Express to the growing list of brands planning for a bot-driven future.

Since the F8 Developer Conference in April, big brands like 1-800-Flowers and the NBA have been working with Facebook Messenger to create chatbots that consumers can use in the app. And earlier this week, snack giant Mondelez said it would start building e-commerce and customer service bots for brands like Oreo and Cadbury.

Now at Cannes Lions, American Express is demoing its Facebook bot, which will roll out in the next few months. The brand is the first financial company to get on board with Messenger and, initially, is experimenting with transaction alerts and purchase-related content.

"We're trying to serve the customer in this more conversational way," said Matthew Sueoka, vp of digital partnerships and development at American Express.

Once people find and opt into Amex's bot, they'll start getting information about their purchases. If you buy a plane ticket from Delta, for example, the app will ping you with the receipt. Then as the flight gets closer, you'll get another message reminding you of your flight with a plug for American Express' complimentary airport lounge.

Amex is also partnering with food brand The Infatuation to pull in restaurant recommendations. In the future, that content may be personalized based on someone's purchase data. "The idea is over time we want to build in other types of content," Sueoka said.

Initially the entire experience will be automated, but Sueoka said the goal is to eventually add customer service reps to field specific questions with one-on-one chats.

"At some level, you need human people," he said. "This initial service is automated, but as we expand the scope, we expect some will need a live human to support you."