Text and voice service WhatsApp has expanded its fast-growing payment offering in its biggest market with this week’s news that it has launched an in-chat payments service for businesses in India.
The WhatsApp service already boasts hundreds of millions of users in India. Now they will be able to pay for products and services through the app.
Shoppers can buy products and services from businesses using credit and debit cards, WhatsApp Pay and India’s public digital payments network UPI. Companies will not be charged for the in-app payments but WhatsApp parent company Meta may benefit from an increase in the number of businesses paying to message their customers via WhatsApp.
This new service also allows the platform to gather more data to help it target and personalise existing advertising. The recent passing of India’s data protection bill, which excludes rules on data sharing by companies, may support that objective.
Enabling merchant payments via WhatsApp has already come to Singapore and Brazil. But India has a bigger population than any country on the planet. The UK’s Financial Times newspaper says WhatsApp already has 400 million monthly users exchanging messages in India.
This could massively boost its chances of becoming one of the top digital payments apps in the country – but it’s also important to Meta as a way to further monetise its platforms. As the FT explains, companies are charged for delivering marketing or customer service messages to their customers via WhatsApp, and to run ads on Facebook or Instagram that take a potential customer directly into a WhatsApp chat with the company.
That’s not the only reason for Meta to be optimistic about the prospects for WhatsApp in this massive market. There’s the apparently business-friendly new data bill, of course, but there's also the fact that the company already has a payments presence in India. It is a major investor in telecom giant Jio and last year launched an in-app customer business payments service with Jio’s ecommerce offering JioMart.