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Is Facebook Inc (FB) Chasing Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) In Conversational Commerce? Tom Hadfield Says So

While Asia and companies which originated in the region like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) have long been looking into the power of mobile messaging for boosting electronic commerce, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and generally the United States are still just now catching on.

Tom Hadfield, founder and Chief Executive Officer of mobile buying platform Fetch, writes in an opinion piece for TechCrunch about how Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) and other electronic commerce players in Asia have been investing for quite some time in messaging platforms.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), meanwhile, has just finished its F8 Developers Conference which saw the company announce that its Messenger application will transform into a platform. That means developers can build on Messenger for services which may include using it to improve the way they sell merchandize.

In fact, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stressed during its developer conference that Messenger and its other technologies are now being aimed at improving business aside from their core functions.

“America is finally discovering what Asia has known for years: mobile messaging is a commerce platform,” Hadfield writes.

The entrepreneur cites Chris Messina writing through Medium saying that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s and other electronic commerce firm’s investments in messaging highlight a trend called “conversational commerce”. This is about making it easier and personalized for people with divided attention and are mobile to do electronic commerce.

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA), Hadfield says, is fresh from investing $200 million in SnapChat. The company also invested $215 million in Tango, another messaging and video call application with hundreds of millions of users, last year. Another giant in the electronic commerce space in Asia, Rakuten, bought Viber, another messaging application with hundreds of millions of users, outright last year for $900 million.

“Asian investors were the drivers of this trend for the simple reason that Asia is ahead of America in harnessing mobile messaging’s true potential,” Hadfield says.

The interest Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and these other huge firms display for this new trend points the world to an “exciting direction,” he adds. People will not be limited by separate apps and “unwieldy shopping carts,” the executive says.

Dan Loeb’s Third Point owned 10 million Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) shares by the end of 2014. Also by the end of the last quarter of last year, Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital owned about 13.5 million Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shares.

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