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Cleo Chatbot Comes to Facebook Messenger

The rise of the chatbots continues as Cleo, a virtual money assistant described by its creators as the “Siri of personal finance,” has launched on Facebook Messenger for users in the U.K. Developed by the London-based fintech startup of the same name, Cleo is an artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot the companies say will help users manage their finances. The platform connects securely to bank and credit card accounts, enabling users to track spending, set budgets and receive reminders and alerts via text or voice commands. Along with Facebook Messenger, Cleo also is available as a standalone app or through integration with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.

The Facebook Messenger integration is a major step forward for Cleo, which was founded in 2016 and thus far has received $700,000 in funding from angel investors, including Skype founder Niklas Zennström. Cleo currently only is available in the U.K., but the company is planning expansion into additional markets soon. The platform doesn’t include payments yet, but Facebook in September 2016 enabled chatbots to accept payments within Messenger, potentially paving the way for Cleo to add transaction and payments capabilities.

Chatbots at large have been on the rise over the past year, as banks, merchants, tech providers and handset makers have tapped the technology to help improve customer loyalty, reduce costs and boost revenue, among other benefits. In December, U.S. mobile banking startup Varo Money unveiled a chatbot dubbed “Val,” which provides Varo customers with advice on spending, saving and borrowing, along with providing account and transaction information and budgeting goals. American Express, Mastercard and Bank of America are among the other financial services providers that released chatbots or announced plans for chat bots in 2016.

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