WhatsApp: India to play ‘crucial role’ in business, digital payment services

The famous messaging platform WhatsApp, intends to have India play a ‘crucial role’ for the product, according to an official.

WhatsApp: India to play ‘crucial role’ in business, digital payment services
Photo: Connected to India

The Facebook-owned messaging platform, which has been working on solutions to allow businesses to connect with consumers, will test tools that allow users to communicate with businesses and other organisations such as banks or airlines through its platform, stated parent company Facebook last year.

WhatsApp’s business model so far does not include advertisements on the app, but plans to monetise through integration with businesses. “… we are definitely in building the product phase. So, what you will see over the year is different tests, both for small and large businesses, and figuring out what's a good experience for these businesses on WhatsApp,” WhatsApp spokesperson Matt Steinfeld said. “India is going to play a crucial role in that,” he added.

A majority chunk of WhatsApp's one billion users reside in India, with an estimated 200 million users, the company said. Within the subcontinent, WhatsApp competes with the likes of Hike messenger and Snapchat.

With a focus on bringing aboard businesses that advertise on the social media platform, Facebook, too, on its part has managed to gather over five million such businesses. In what can be seen as an active attempt to displace Snapchat, Facebook and WhatsApp recently introduced "Stories" feature that allows users to update statuses through pictures and animations. 

Ravishankar Prasad
Ravishankar Prasad. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

With India being the testing ground, WhatsApp also plans to enter the digital payment services sector and the company is also looking to hire a digital transactions head for the country, a company spokesperson said. WhatsApp's co-founder Brian Acton had met with Ravishankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, in February to discuss how the platform could contribute towards India's vision of digital commerce. 

“We listen very carefully to feedback from people across India and how to better serve them. India is obviously our largest country and it's going to be one of the most important markets,” Steinfeld stated.