Tough time for Paytm and MobiKwik: WhatsApp to launch payment feature by December


WhatsApp is preparing to integrate in-chat payment option for Indian users by December this year. According to a FactorDaily report, the feature is in the final stage and WhatsApp executives are testing it out. The report states that the Facebook-owned messaging app will extend the beta program for the feature in November and launch it officially in December.

For payment integration, WhatsApp has already partnered with three banks including State Bank of India, HDFC Bank and ICICI.

By clicking the rupee icon, the users can send or request money. Before sending money users to require to identify themselves with the personal number while receivers will be notified just like they receive a contact or location. Importantly, it will have the option to accept or reject the request.

This is the first time WhatsApp is launching a payment feature anywhere in the world. Earlier in August this year, WhatsApp had tested beta version for UPI enabled payment option. However, the feature was “hidden and under development”.

WhatsApp’s foray into space is likely to be a serious concern for digital wallets like Paytm and MobiKwik. The instant messaging app has the largest user base in India with over 200 million users. It’s not clear how WhatsApp’s payment strategies will pan-out, however, it’s likely to follow WeChat model.

WeChat is extremely successful in integrating in-chat features including payment and other utility features in China. The Tencent-owned messaging app has over 938 million active daily users. WeChat users sent about $1.2 trillion in 2016, up from $11.6 billion in 2012 through WeChatPay.

Beyond text messaging, voice and video calling, WeChat offers a social network timeline, branded accounts, shopping, games and more.

Kicking its monetisation plan in India, WhatsApp, the instant messaging app owned by Facebook, had launched WhatsApp for businesses in August, this year. Movie and entertainment ticketing portal BookMyShow, Oyo and Ola are using WhatsApp’s business feature.

WhatsApp has long been planning to foray into digital payments services in India. In April, it hired a candidate with the technical and financial background, who also has an understanding of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), BHIM payments app and Aadhaar number.

The firm had earlier posted a job advertisement to hire a Communications Manager, India and Product Manager, Monetization, among many vacancies on its site.  

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