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Facebook Picks London As WhatsApp Payments Hub

Facebook has chosen London as the payments hub for WhatsApp. According to the Financial Times, the app will hire about 100 people.

While most of the software engineers will be in London, additional operations staff will be based in Dublin. New staff will build a payments function, as well as develop products to boost safety and prevent spam on the app.

The social media giant revealed that it chose the U.K. because it attracts a multicultural workforce from many of the countries where WhatsApp is popular.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that WhatsApp’s mobile payments would launch in several countries this year, after a successful pilot in India. WhatsApp Pay, which is facilitated by the Indian government’s UPI payments system, began testing its service in the country earlier this year with around 1 million users.

“Payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier. I believe it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo,” Zuckerberg said at the F8 developers conference.

Senior engineers from the WhatsApp founding team were already sent to London late last year to recruit people for the hub.

“We’re eager to work with some of the best technical and operational experts in both London and Dublin to take WhatsApp into its second decade. WhatsApp is a truly global service, and these teams will help us provide WhatsApp payments and other great features for our users everywhere,” said Matthew Idema, WhatsApp’s chief operating officer.

One issue the U.K. team will be working on is the misuse of the WhatsApp platform, including the sharing of child abuse imagery, as well as misleading and false information.

“That’s ultimately the challenge of WhatsApp. Since 2016, there has been a focus on political misinformation, but, globally, there is a huge problem with scientific and health misinformation, such as anti-vaxxers, as well,” said Claire Wardle, a fellow at Harvard University.

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The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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