Facebook
Facebook is reportedly working on Moneypenny, a human-powered virtual assistant    (Reuters/Dado Ruvic)

Remember Moneypenny, James Bond's secretary. That's Facebook's moniker for a human-powered virtual assistant service it's testing, according to a new report.

The social network is building Moneypenny into its own Messenger chat app. Unlike Siri, Cortana or Google Now, all of which work as personal assistants, Moneypenny would allow users to ask real people for help researching and ordering products and services, the Information said citing sources with knowledge of the service.

Not much is known about its functionality but Moneypenny is apparently powered by humans, and is similar to a concierge. It is also not clear when Facebook plans to launch the service.

A few companies have been working on similar services. One of them is Magic, a US startup that puts users through to trained operators, helping them to place orders for whatever they want. All you need to do is just send a text message.

Others include Operator and GoButler. Operator, a startup by Uber co-founder Garrette Camp and former Zynga executive Robin Chan, was introduced in April. The app uses a network of human operators to fulfil customer requests. It can also handle a range of commercial requests.

High-end smartphone maker Vertu also offers a concierge service with its expensive smartphones. Pressing a ruby-encrusted button on the side of the phone will launch an app to allow you call or text to ask for just about anything at any time of day or night, from anywhere in the world. From organising your wedding to delivering beer to your office, Vertu's concierge service claims "to provide anything so long as it is legal" - but at £2,000 it's not cheap.