WhatsApp Payment has been there in the Indian market for quite some time, although it is yet to penetrate the market in a meaningful manner. Additionally, it is yet to receive approval for a full roll-out from the authorities. In such a situation, the Facebook-owned company has already set its sights on entering the lending market in India.
WhatsApp Payments has listed credit as one of the business plans for India, according to the ministry of corporate affairs filing (accessed by TechCrunch). Curiously, the company has not listed any other financial service apart from this. However, it is yet to be clear whether WhatsApp is thinking of offering personal loans to consumers or providing credit for consumers who will use the platform to fund purchases. Regardless of all this, the credit feature is expected to come out once WhatsApp Pay rolls out commercially.
As such, Facebook has been struggling to rollout the payment feature in India. The company had to indulge in many discussions with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to iron out any hiccups that might cause a hindrance later on in the deal. Moreover, WhatsApp Pay, as of now, is in a phased roll-out stage. Inspite of this, it has not stopped Facebook from thinking ahead about the future of the app.
With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, lending is supposed to see a huge surge which is being picked up by major companies. This includes Amazon who has already launched the Amazon Pay Later service. It is supposed to offer instant credit on purchases made from the website. The credit will also be applicable to loans on groceries and utility bills too. Along with this, one can opt to repay the loaned amount in a subsequent month without any extra fees or can convert the large transactions into monthly instalments of 12 months or less.
This isn’t really a new feature since Flipkart already has a credit system in place called Flipkart Pay Later. That feature also works in a similar fashion.
Facebook started the first phase of rolling out WhatsApp Pay after receiving an NPCI license in February. As a result, the payment service reached around 10 million users in India. WhatsApp Payment uses Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for mobile transactions. However, it will not be able to roll out to WhatsApp’s 400 million-strong userbase until all the technicalities are sorted out.
India is probably Facebook’s biggest market where it has not been able to get a strong grip as of yet. However, the company reaffirmed its commitment to the country this month after investing $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms. This resulted in JioMart, an e-commerce venture by Jio’s parent firm, testing an ordering system on WhatsApp.
For WhatsApp, which has always been a free app, this might be a way to finally make money.