India is catching up to China's milestones.
That is, in terms of the number of mobile subscribers. India has now topped 1 billion mobile phone users, according to Bloomberg, which noted that India is only the second country to do so — with China being the first country to hit that mark.
With a population of roughly 1.3 billion, that's an impressive figure to hit. Data from the the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reports that that figure is up 0.7 percent in a month's time. India's affection toward mobile could be because of its cheap phone bills, which has made its user base more than triple the U.S. population.
Bharti Airtel, India's top wireless carrier, has more than 200 million subscribers (Verizon Wireless in the U.S. has roughly 137.5 million subscribers). Behind that top mobile company, there's another 12 mobile carriers working to secure a more dominant spot in the mobile-crazed population.
In terms of mobile payments, India has also become a hotbed for that industry. Alibaba-backed Indian payments startup Paytm has big expectations when it comes to the use of its mobile wallet in 2016. The company’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, revealed a prediction that its customers will add nearly $500 million to Paytm’s mobile wallets next year, representing a tenfold increase to the amount utilized in the mobile wallets of Paytm customers this year, The Economic Times reported earlier this week (Dec. 28).
The company confirmed it has 110 million wallet users and is reportedly relying on its offline offerings to help boost the transactions that take place in its wallets as well, eventually helping its wallet to become a universal debit card. Just last month, Paytm announced plans to invest $764 million into an aggressive expansion plan over the next three years to capture the crown as India’s largest eCommerce player.
India has also recently been listed as one of Uber's top markets, showing how the growing mobile population is driving the mobile commerce market in the region.
And back on the payments side, Twitter is now getting into the mobile payments game. Twitter announced Wednesday (Dec. 23) that it is partnering with India-based on-demand local services platform Lookup to enable users to send a direct message to @lookuplite in order to book appointments, inquire about goods and services and transact with local businesses.
The new capability won’t work in the same way as Twitter’s Buy Button, which utilizes what the company calls “product and place pages” and “product and place collections” to promote specific products with images, video and pricing, as well as an option to buy directly within the social network.