The company, which recently made a similar foray into India but was delayed due to regulatory red tape involving local data storage rules, wants to tap into Indonesia’s fast-growing eCommerce economy.
In India, the company would offer direct peer-to-peer (PSP) payments and services, but Indonesia it would operate differently, due to licensing regulations in the country.
If it’s successful, the initiative in Indonesia could serve as a blueprint for how WhatsApp would operate in other countries, as a way to sidestep regulations.
Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy — and with over 100 million WhatsApp users, it’s one of the chat app’s top-five markets worldwide. Analysts say the country’s eCommerce sector is going to experience explosive growth in the next few years, reaching $100 billion by 2025. The country also has notoriously strict regulations when it comes to electronic payments.
Because the company isn’t pursuing PSP payments, it’s in talks with several firms, including Go-Jek, DANA and OVO. Deals with the firms are expected to be finalized soon and were supposed to start by the end of the year, but they were delayed because of the pending India deal.
WhatsApp has also reportedly been in talks with Bank Mandiri, a state-owned bank that has its own digital wallet. Earlier in the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that it was going to bring WhatsApp payments to “some countries.”
“As Mark has said earlier this year… we are looking to bring digital payments to more countries,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “WhatsApp is in conversations with financial partners in Indonesia about payments — however, the discussions are in early stages, and we do not have anything further to share at this stage.”
One source that spoke to Reuters said that it was going to need to get approval from the Bank of Indonesia before it could move forward with the deal.