Facebook is upping its commitment to the Indian tech market with a bid to have WhatsApp work with more Indian lenders.
WhatsApp will expand banking services in rural areas and work with the “informal economy,” an official said, according to a Reuters report. Facebook’s investment in Reliance could give it a leg up with the Indian company’s retail business, which is expanding, too.
“We now want to open up with more banks over this coming year to help simplify and expand banking services, especially to the rural and lower-income segments,” said Abhijit Bose, WhatsApp’s India head, speaking at a webcast FinTech summit.
He said WhatsApp will also work with financial institutions to expand offerings.
“Our collective aim over the next two to three years should be to help low-wage workers and the unorganized, informal economy easily access three products — insurance, micro-credit and pensions,” Bose said.
The news outlet noted WhatsApp has also been running its own payments service in India, with limited success, for more than two years. WhatsApp said it has met Indian regulators’ requests for its expansion efforts, including that the company will store its customer data locally.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp hired Bose, the co-founder and chief executive of Indian mobile payments firm Ezetap, in late 2018.
Facebook recently invested $5.7 billion for a 10 percent stake in Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, as Big Tech expands in India. The growing Indian conglomerate is run by Mukesh Ambani, said to be India’s wealthiest person.
Cardholders who make bank transactions with two Brazilian banks, Nubank and Sicredi, will be the first to use the tool on WhatsApp, which allows users to send text and voice messages — and money. By using Mastercard Send, WhatsApp users can have their phones transfer money instantly. That’s become more desirable as consumers seek other ways of paying without touch, due to coronavirus fears.