Facebook MoneyPenny

by: Nick Gambino

Apple really started something with this whole Siri thing, my God. It seems everyone and their mother is quick to jump on the personal virtual/digital assistant bandwagon. Microsoft has Cortana. Google has Google Now. I hear even MySpace is developing one called “SOS.” Ok, that last one may not be true and is a cheap shot but here’s one that is reportedly real – Facebook is working on their own personal assistant named Moneypenny.

Whether this name will carry over past a working title or not we’ll have to see. I for one love the name but that may just be the movie nerd in me who loves James Bond.

Moneypenny will apparently work in conjunction with the Facebook Messenger app and will do something slightly different then these other assistants out there. While the others work to assist you in anything and everything to increase productivity and in general make everything more convenient, Moneypenny allows you to consult with real, live people.

Here’s how it works, allegedly (or reportedly depending on whether you think demanding a digital assistant be at your beck and call 24/7 is a crime or not). You check in with real people who can help you research or buy various products and services. So really it’s not so much a digital assistant but an “operator” who connects you to real people who then do the logistics work for you.

Anything beyond that has not been revealed as Facebook is keeping hush-hush and is testing everything internally. It would keep in line with the path Facebook Messenger is going with recent additions that allow companies to interact with people through the app. It seems they’re attempting to make it more and more of a shopping app. There’s money in that so who can blame them.

Again there aren’t a lot of details coming out about Moneypenny so we don’t know if this is going to be a service they charge for or not. If it’s anything like the services Operator or Magic, which it sounds like it is, those guys charge a small fee for every purchase.

Unless they really really do it right it’s doubtful I’ll use this service just because I don’t really need someone else handling my underwear shopping for me. I’d rather keep that within my own control. But then again, I’m a sucker for marketing and I may just try it out if they keep the name Moneypenny. I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist saying, “Find me silk boxers, Miss Moneypenny.”



Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch.  He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.


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