WhatsApp Pay being tested in India, but have no timeframe: Mark Zuckerberg

By Peerzada Abrar & Neha Alawadhi , Business Standard, Bengaluru/NewDelhi | In Digital
Published : April 26, 2019 05:18 AM
Once launched, Facebook's WhatsApp Pay would directly compete with players such as Alphabet's Google Pay, Walmart owned PhonePe, Amazon Pay and Alibaba-backed Paytm in India.

Facebook is betting big on the growth of digital payments in India and is in the process of a full-fledged launch of WhatsApp Pay soon. The move would put the Menlo Park, California-based social media giant in direct competition with players like Alphabet's Google Pay, Walmart owned PhonePe, Amazon Pay and Alibaba-backed Paytm which are already locked in a fierce battle to dominate the digital payments space in the country.


"What we're going to end up seeing is building out payments, which is going to end up being something that we do country by country. We have a test that is running in India for WhatsApp now," said Mark Zuckerberg, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Facebook during the company's earnings call. "We're hoping to launch in several other countries at some point, but I don't want to put a timeframe on that here. But it's something that we're actively working on," said Zuckerberg.

He said the goal would be to have something where users can do discovery through the broader town square like platforms in Instagram and Facebook. They then can complete the transactions and follow up with businesses individually and have an ongoing relationship through Messenger and WhatsApp.

WhatsApp, which has been able to hold its weight against Twitter, Google and Microsoft's Skype, has over 1.5 billion users in 180 countries who find it easy to send messages across different countries and mobile devices. In 2014 Facebook bought the company for a whopping $19 billion. Over the years, the messaging platform has evolved from an update-only app to one that lets users send messages, make video and audio calls and now it would make payments. It has over 200 million users in India. However, since February last year, WhatsApp's payment feature--WhatsApp Pay--has been in a beta mode and restricted to early users as there are pending regulatory approvals.

The Indian digital payments space is expected to rise fivefold to reach $1 trillion by 2023 and it would be led by the growth in mobile payments, according to a report by financial services company Credit Suisse.

This month tech company Google said its payment arm Google Pay's monthly active users had grown three times, from 14 million in March 2018 to 45 million in March 2019. Total money value flowing through Google Pay equals $81 billion at an annualised run-rate level. Also, this month Walmart-owned digital payments firm PhonePe said that it has crossed the two billion digital payment transaction mark on the app. This milestone was led by growth across large and small offline and online merchants across the country, the company said.

Facebook daily active users reached 1.56 billion, up 8 per cent compared to last year, led by growth in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, according to David Wehner, chief financial officer, Facebook. This represents approximately 66 per cent of the 2.38 billion monthly active users in March. The monthly active users grew 179 million or 8 per cent compared to last year.

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