WhatsApp adds rival payment options in India commerce push

By Chicago 4 Min Read

WhatsApp said on Wednesday that it will offer credit card payments and services from rival digital payment providers within its app in India, the latest bet by the Meta Platforms Inc.-owned service to boost commerce offerings in its biggest market.

WhatsApp has more than 500 million users in India, though regulators there have capped its in-app WhatsApp Pay service to only 100 million people. People shopping on the social-messaging app could also pay using popular services like Alphabet Inc.’s Google Pay, Paytm and Walmart Inc.’s PhonePe but only after being redirected outside WhatsApp.

Payments via those rival services—and any others that run on India’s instant money transfer system Unified Payments Interface (UPI)—will now be possible directly within WhatsApp, Meta said in a blog post. New in-app options for credit and debit cards will also be offered.

The additions bolster Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for business messaging to become the “next major pillar” of the company’s sales growth, an agenda that has assumed greater urgency as Meta’s core ads business and metaverse project have come under pressure.

While WhatsApp Pay users will remain capped in India, there is no such limit on the number of users permitted to transact with businesses on WhatsApp using the other methods, a Meta spokesperson said.

With some 300 million people spending about $180 billion via India’s using UPI each month, the new transaction options could serve as a powerful lure to attract businesses to pay Meta for access to WhatsApp users.

To date, WhatsApp has limited its end-to-end shopping experiences in India to pilot programs like that with online grocery service JioMart, run by India’s richest person, billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and the metro systems in the cities of Chennai and Bangaluru.

Moving forward, the new payment tools will be available to any company in India that uses WhatsApp’s business platform, which mainly serves large companies, according to the blog post.

Meta is also expanding its Meta Verified subscription programme to businesses globally, giving companies a mechanism to validate authenticity and elevate their content in users’ feeds, a separate blog post said.

Monthly subscriptions will be available on Instagram and Facebook in a handful of countries to start and will expand to WhatsApp at a later date, costing $21.99 per Facebook page or Instagram account or $34.99 for both, according to the post.

Meta acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion.

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Updated: 21 Sep 2023, 01:32 AM IST

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