Facebook-owned Whatsapp is considering a move into digital payment services in India, according to multiple reports today. The company plans to launch person-to-person payments in India in the next six months, according to news website The Ken.
A post on the instant messaging company’s website has advertised to hire a ‘Digital Transactions Lead’ in the country to help them “scale global support for digital transactions on WhatsApp.” The ideal candidate will have a financial background and an understanding of India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the BHIM payments app.
"India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we're understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India," a WhatsApp spokesman told Reuters. "We're exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users.”
This would be Facebook’s first attempt to offer mobile payments service on Whatsapp - but the social media giant has already launched a new service that lets you transfer money overseas directly from within its Messenger app. Facebook Messenger has supported peer-to-peer payment since 2015.
Digital payments in India have surged after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to replace high-denomination banknotes in November, despite the fact they accounted for more than 80 percent of the country's currency in circulation at the time.
For Whatsapp, India represents a tremendous opportunity. The country is home to 200 million of the company’s billion plus users. According to the India Mobile Wallet Market report, the market for mobile wallets in India is projected to grow at a CAGR over 50% between 2017 and 2021.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp's co-founder, Brian Acton, told local media that the app was in early stages of investigating digital payments in the country and that he had talked to the Indian government about entering the market.
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