Digital Payments

Paytm Plans Messaging Service To Compete With WhatsApp

Paytm is planning to launch a messaging service by the end of August to compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp.

According to Reuters, an unnamed source said that Paytm, which is backed by Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Alibaba, wants to attract people in India to use a messaging service embedded in its payments app,

The company is already India’s leading digital payments firm, with more than 225 million people using it to buy everything from food to plane tickets. Back in May, the company launched a niche payments bank as part of its drive to double its customer base to 500 million over the next three years.

The new messaging service will allow its users to send audio, video, pictures and texts.

“Paytm wants to become a digital universe for Indian commerce where consumers can communicate, shop and use financial services,” said Pavel Naiya, an analyst at tech research Counterpoint.

E-payments in India surged after the country banned old, high-value currency notes late last year. WhatsApp, which had 200 million monthly active users as of February in India, its biggest single market, has also been looking at moving into digital payment services there.

“India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we’re understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India,” a WhatsApp spokesman said, referring to a flagship government program that aims to boost the use of Internet-based services in the country. “We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users.”

And earlier this year, another Indian messaging platform, Hike, rolled out an electronic payments service in its app to cash in on the growth in digital transactions in the country.

Digital payments in India will jump nearly 10 times by 2020 to $500 billion, according to a 2016 report by Boston Consulting Group.

Paytm did not respond to an email seeking comment, and WhatsApp was not immediately reachable for comment.

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