WhatsApp could be planning to significantly step up its payment ambitions. The hugely successful chat app already has ambitious plans to bring peer-to-peer transactions to allow users to send money to one another without leaving WhatsApp, but now it wants to bring loans to the service too. Yes, really.
Like the ability to ping money to friends and family within chat windows or group conversations, this new feature will be limited to India. The new feature was unearthed in a recent regulatory filing which states the Facebook-owned company would like to “advance money or give credit on such terms as may seem expedient, and with or without security, to customers and others.”
Due to regulations, WhatsApp will not be able to hand out the loans itself – so it will have to partner with existing banking businesses to execute this crackpot new idea. Being able to complete the application inside WhatsApp could make it much easier to quickly access cash when you need it.
Earlier this month, Facebook invested $5.9 billion into India‘s top carrier Reliance Jio. As a part of this deal, a pilot programme to allow people to order groceries within WhatsApp. And previous reports suggest Jio is one of the companies looking to help WhatsApp bring its consumer lending business into the chat app.
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WhatsApp is now used by two billion users across the globe. However, India is a crucial market for the chat app.
Last year, WhatsApp announced that it had amassed 400 million monthly users in India. Given that previous research suggests there are only 450 million smartphone users in the country – it’s clear how ubiquitous the messaging service has become.
WhatsApp first started to test the ability to send money within the messenger back in 2018. However, the upgrade has hit a number of regulatory restrictions during its development which delayed the original launch date scheduled for the end of last year.
In February, it was claimed WhatsApp will roll out payments to 10 million users as part of its next phase of testing. However, Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan confirmed in an interview with TechCrunch in April that its userbase for payments still stands at one million.
According to Credit Suisse, the Indian digital payments market will be worth a jaw-dropping $1 trillion by 2023. So, you don’t need a Masters to work out why WhatsApp is so desperate to get a solid grip on this market with future updates.