Whenever I needed to get quick information on foreign exchange rates in Nigeria, I visit naij.com. But I don’t have to do that anymore, thanks to Nairabot, an exchange rate “Mallam” that lives in Facebook Messenger. This could be a fallout from Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria, his visit to Andela Campus, the ties with Coollink and the many secrets about Facebook’s romance with Airtel Nigeria.
Nairabot (formerly known as FXbot) is a Facebook Messenger bot built by a 23-year old developer based in Yaba named Fowotade “Jihdeh” who was discovered by Babajide Jason Chukwuma Njoku, Founder of iROKO. Njoku, with his obsession for FX (as many of us are today), believes in the “Rise of the Planet of the Bots”.
Nigeria is the most mobilized country in the world today. With a lot of our communication happening via Instant Messaging platforms, bot technology is the next big thing. Njoku managed to get Jihdeh into the messenger platform Zuckerburg opened for developers to create bots.
Wondering what a “bot” is? An Internet bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.
For starters, Telegram bot can use it to schedule blog posts for Telegram Channel, Whatsapp Bot could be used as Wikipedia Engine and with Facebook messenger bot, you can now, within seconds, check for foreign exchange rates in Nigeria using Nairabot.
At its very core, the idea riffs off the (mostly Hausa) men who stand outside BDCs (Bureau de Change), buying and selling foreign currencies. The parallel market. The prices these “mallams” quote are the best representation of any currency’s value, because they are completely market-driven: something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.
Jihdeh’s Nairabot probably talks to a service like Abokifx.com, a website that lists the exchange rate between the Nigerian Naira and the US Dollar, British Pound, Euro, Yuan, via API and uses that information to respond to user queries. Pretty neat.
Nairabot works like a charm. All you have to do is send a message using the command below on your Facebook Messenger.
Commands you can use NairaBot
- rates (to get parallel market rates)
- convert 100 usd (to convert 100 dollars to naira by default) or
- convert 100 dollars or
- convert 100 pounds to naira
- wu (to get western union rates) or
- westy (same as wu above)
- wu convert 1000 euros (to convert western union 1000 euros to naira) or
- wu convert 100 pounds to naira(to convert 100 pounds to naira at western union rates)
- cbn rates(to get cbn exchange rates)
How Nairabot Work
I took it for a spin and I have receipts.
You don’t need to download or install anything. Visit Facebook.com/Nairabot and send a message
When you tap the Get Started button, Nairabot will give you a quick primer
I wanted to type “cbn rates” but did a typo and was asked to check for the command. Really an intelligent bot!
If you start applying the right commands, it will respond to your requests almost instantaneously.
Apparently, it’s not used to receiving compliments…
This rather interesting. Come to think of it, over 1 billion active users of Facebook messenger app now have access to Nigeria exchange rates with no extra effort. It’s a job well done!