Messaging app Viber earlier this calendar year made its to start with foray into shopping services with Prompt Procuring, a aspect that lets you research for items for sale by using a keyboard when you have the messaging app open up. Nowadays, the enterprise is asserting some more e-commerce linked news: it’s acquiring the startup that helped construct that aspect.

Viber has acquired Chatter Commerce, maker of a assistance identified as ShopChat, which was the tech guiding Prompt Procuring. CEO and co-founder Zephrin Lasker the moment explained ShopChat to me as “the world’s to start with shopping keyboard.”

He also highlighted to me a distinctive aspect that is been made into ShopChat, whilst I’m not certain if Viber and Rakuten approach to endorse this one: due to the fact you can obtain ShopChat as a keyboard app, in principle it signifies that Rakuten could use it to electricity shopping in any messaging and chat app, not just Viber, provided persons actually have the hunger to shop on messaging applications, and to use a keyboard and not a bot to do it.

Phrases of the offer have been not disclosed, but Chatter Commerce presently experienced a couple of ties to the enterprise: not only have been they presently performing with Viber, but it was backed by $one.twenty five million led by Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce huge that also owns Viber (which it bought for $900 million in 2014). It was a youthful startup, only exiting from stealth method earlier this calendar year.

Viber said that Chatter Commerce’s group of seven engineers, who are based mostly out of San Francisco, are signing up for the enterprise. Zephrin Lasker, Chatter Commerce’s CEO and co-founder, will take a role as Viber’s world-wide head of e-commerce — a strong indication that the enterprise wishes and ideas to do a whole lot more in this spot heading ahead.

“We established Chatter Commerce on the foundation that persons need to be ready to do substantially more in their chats than what is now offered,” said Lasker in a statement. “Rakuten Viber’s revolutionary vision extends over and above the slight information of aspect optimization that most messaging applications are centered on right now their aim is to radically broaden the role messaging applications have in people’s each day lives.”

The acquisition comes at an interesting time in the entire world of messaging.

We have claimed in the final 7 days that there are some strong signals we’re viewing and listening to that Amazon is setting up a purchaser-centered messaging app. With Facebook also introducing in more transactional capabilities into Messenger — element of a huge expansion that has taken it over and above standard chat and into bots and other services — there is a apparent development between messaging applications to leverage engagement they presently have with their buyers to travel their company in other techniques.

Facebook is coming at it from the social angle (whilst, with ex-PayPal exec David Marcus at the helm, you can argue that it far too has some extremely strong commerce pedigree). And Amazon would appear at it from the commerce angle — our resources say that one of the primary (geddit?) motivations guiding it setting up a messaging assistance is to use it to enable with its omni-gross sales approach.

Viber is someplace in in between these two: the enterprise may possibly have its roots as a pure-perform messaging assistance, but at any time due to the fact it was acquired by Rakuten — identified as the Amazon of Japan — in 2014, I have been watching it to see when and how it would finally take the plunge into commerce.

It is been a extended time coming — a few complete several years — and feels a tiny like a defensive shift, as if the enterprise has been kicked into gear by opening moves from Facebook and other people.

My guess is that Viber’s gradual rate of advancement total has not carried out it any favors.

Viber stopped updating its metrics several years ago and right now only describes its dimensions as “800+ million users”, so it’s tricky to know how well-known it is these days as opposed to WhatsApp and Messenger (both equally owned by Facebook) with 2 billion buyers in between them and the myriad of other well-known messaging applications out there right now, which include WeChat, Line, Kik, and so many more.

And so, the shift right now could be an interesting indication of how the enterprise, underneath new CEO Djamel Agaoua, who joined earlier this calendar year, is performing tricky to posture itself as a significant participant the moment once more in the messaging place.

“This investment decision is a new action in our journey to rework Viber into a multi-assistance communication system,” said Agaoua. “We want to deliver more benefit to our hundreds of millions of buyers all-around the entire world whilst maintaining the knowledge basic and seamless. Chatter Commerce’s technologies will actively assistance our vision, and their group is a excellent suit for our lifestyle of innovation.”