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WhatsApp Brings In-Chat Payments to India

WhatsApp app with India flag

Meta’s WhatsApp is offering a new payment method to its massive customer base in India.

“We’re making it easier to complete a purchase directly in the chat,” the messaging service wrote on its blog Wednesday (Sept. 20).

“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. We’re excited to be working with partners Razorpay and PayU to make paying for something as simple as sending a message.”

WhatsApp has already launched similar payments programs in Brazil and Singapore. This latest move could place it “among the top three digital payments apps in the country,” Arvind Singhal, chair of business management consulting firm Technopak Advisors told the Financial Times.

India is home to more than a billion people, and more than half a billion of them are WhatsApp users. It’s also a country quite comfortable with mobile payments, as PYMNTS intelligence shows consumers in India using 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 last month. “India’s millennial, bridge millennial and Generation Z shoppers have been the country’s early adopters of these digital-first shopping experiences.”

Last week, WhatsApp announced it was expanding Channels, a one-way broadcasting tool that appeared in June, into 150 countries.

“We’re welcoming thousands of organizations, sports teams, artists and thought leaders that people can follow, right within WhatsApp,” Meta wrote in a blog post. “If you’re new to Channels, our goal is to build the most private broadcast service available. Channels are separate from your chats, and who you choose to follow is not visible to other followers. We also protect the personal information of both admins and followers.”

WhatsApp initially debuted Channels in 10 countries, giving users “a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers and polls.”

Meta has looked to WhatsApp as a potential revenue stream as it tries to offset the losses it has suffered in pursuit of its metaverse efforts.

“We continue to be excited about the monetization opportunity with business messaging too,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an earnings call in February, asserting that messaging will become a significant business pillar in the years ahead.

WhatsApp said in late June that WhatsApp Business has an active user base of more than 200 million, up from 50 million in 2020.