The Information recently discovered code in Facebook Messenger pointing to how Facebook intends to turn the app into a marketplace, including an unreleased feature which would let people use the app to purchase items in stores and pay directly in Messenger when they pick up an item, effectively turning Messenger into a Wallet service. It's likely that it would integrate with other payment services such as Apple Pay.
Also found in the code was a reference to "suggested businesses," and now Business Insider's Biz Carson has spotted this very feature right in the app. As many as 20 businesses reportedly show up under the search bar for people and groups.
Facebook has added an extra line of 20 suggested businesses that you could chat with as well — although it's hard to tell why those businesses are ones you'd want to talk to at all.
When I tried talking to ride-hailing service Lyft, the company told me chat wasn't an option. ClassPass did say "hi there" back to me, and Chase told me they could handle any requests I have. The rest of the companies on my list of 20 were a mix of small town newspapers that I have no connection to or organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
She notes that it could be just a test rather than a new feature that's rolling out. I've been unable to replicate it myself.
It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see this become a feature as Facebook is obviously hoping to turn Messenger into a tool for B2C (and C2B) communication. This began at F8 last year when Facebook announced related features. This year's event is around the corner, so we'll see what they have to say about business use of Messenger.
A December report found that Messenger is the fastest growing of the top apps in the U.S. It has 800 million people using it each month.