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Meta expands WhatsApp payments service in India

MUMBAI: WhatsApp on Wednesday announced the expansion of its payments service in India to make it easier for people transacting with businesses to pay for purchases directly in the chat, with a choice of UPI apps, including rival digital payment options, as well as credit and debit cards.

Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg asserted that India is leading the world in people and businesses embracing messaging.

WhatsApp said it is working with partners Razorpay and PayU "to make paying for something as simple as sending a message", as the Meta-owned platform unveiled a host of new features to woo businesses in India's booming commerce market.

"India (is) a country that's at the forefront of a lot of what we're going to talk about today. You're (India is) leading the world in terms of how people and businesses have embraced messaging as the better way to get things done," Zuckerberg said during a virtual address at the business messaging conference ‘Conversations' in Mumbai.

A series of new tools have been announced for turbocharging businesses, including WhatsApp Flows and Meta verified badge, to "speed up how to get things done with businesses in a WhatsApp chat".

"Expanding our payments service in India to all Indian businesses using the WhatsApp Business Platform...People will be able to add items to a cart and send a payment using the payment method of their choice either WhatsApp or other payment methods, including all UPI apps, debit and credit cards, and more all without having to go to a website, open another app or pay in person," according to a factsheet by the company.

This means payments through rival services like Google Pay and Paytm can be facilitated directly within the app and not redirected away from the app to a site.

The feature is already live in Singapore and Brazil (for small businesses).

Zuckerberg said Meta has continued to innovate with messaging formats, group chats and broadcast channels.

"And it's the same focus that we're bringing to how we support businesses, creating simple to use and easy to scale tools so they can connect with their customers in meaningful ways," he said.

WhatsApp Flows is a new feature for businesses to create richer in-chat experiences for their customers like booking a reservation, ordering delivery or checking in for a flight, directly on WhatsApp. Businesses will be able to choose from a series of flexible, pre-made building blocks so they can easily design rich, customisable experiences for their customers.

Zuckerberg said WhatsApp Flows gives businesses the ability to create customised experiences within chat threads.

Citing some examples of how this would work, he said that with ‘WhatsApp Flows', a bank can build a way for customers to book an appointment to open a new account, a food delivery service can build a way to place an order from any of their partner restaurants or an airline can build a way to check in for a flight and pick up a seat. All this without having to leave the chat thread.

The platform also announced expansion of Meta Verified to businesses on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. This means businesses will be able to subscribe for a fee and get a verified badge, account support, impersonation protection and premium features that help amplify their brand online and make it more efficient to chat with customers.

This will be rolling out to Facebook and Instagram business in select countries in the coming weeks, while WhatsApp will follow.

"We've been hearing from a lot of businesses that they're very eager to build more credibility and get greater visibility. So, I am excited to start rolling out Meta Verified in the coming months. And we're going to continue to evolve what's included in the toolkit to make sure that we're bringing the best value to businesses," he said.

Meta India VP Sandhya Devanathan said WhatsApp is now a thriving platform even for business interactions and added that Indians are using it to debut businesses, discover businesses and interact with businesses.

"For these entrepreneurs, WhatsApp is their business, it's their website, their digital storefront, their livelihood...Our commitment to their success is unwavering. And that is why we have committed to upskilling and digitally training ten million traders in twenty nine states across the length and breadth of our country and in eleven Indian languages over a period of three years," she said.


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