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Meta Launches Small Business Partnership With India’s ONDC

WhatsApp app with India flag

Meta has teamed with India’s ONDC to help smaller merchants do business on WhatsApp.

The partnership with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is designed to “enable and educate small businesses in building seamless conversational buyer and seller experiences on WhatsApp through an ecosystem of our business and technical solution providers,” the social media giant wrote on its blog Tuesday (Dec. 19).

Meta said it will kick off the partnership by “upskilling” micro, small and midsize enterprises (MSMEs) in India through the Meta Small Business Academy, helping these companies learn digital marketing skills to thrive on the company’s platforms.

“Today, for any business to grow, it is critical for them to market themselves and reach a wider audience,” said T Koshy, managing director and CEO of ONDC. “Our partnership with Meta will not only digitally upskill these businesses but will also enable them to connect with a customer base far and wide.”

Founded last year, the ONDC is an open network that makes digital commerce “platform neutral.” The network earlier this year began facilitating B2B transactions.

The partnership is the latest example of Meta boosting its WhatsApp services in India, where the country enjoys a massive customer base. In September, the company announced it would let users make purchases directly in chats, following similar offerings in Brazil and Singapore.

“Starting today, people in India can add items to their cart and send a payment using the method of their choice from all supported UPI apps, debit and credit cards and more,” the company said in that announcement. “We’re excited to be working with partners Razorpay and PayU to make paying for something as simple as sending a message.”

More than half of India’s 1 billion people are WhatApp users. And as we’ve noted here, the country is quite comfortable making mobile payments, with PYMNTS intelligence showing that Indian consumers use digital wallets to pay for 55% of retail purchases.

“As one might expect, given India’s trailblazing nature, local consumers use more digital shopping features than their counterparts in the United States or the United Kingdom,” PYMNTS wrote earlier this year. “India’s millennial, bridge millennial and Generation Z shoppers have been the country’s early adopters of these digital-first shopping experiences.”