Facebook’s Whatsapp Is Getting Into Digital Payments


Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp is getting into digital payments in India, a first for a global messaging service that’s only just begun to explore ways to generate revenue.

It’s chosen to kick off that maiden effort in India, a market dominated by Alibaba-backed digital payments leader Paytm but where WhatsApp’s 200 million users outnumber any other country. WhatsApp wants to “contribute more to India’s vision for digital commerce,” it said in a statement Wednesday. The company also advertised on its website for a “Digital Transactions Lead, India” to be based in Menlo Park, California, but with an ability to understand local financial standards such as India’s digital-ID program Aadhaar and its banking payments interface.

Facebook agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, though that price tag eventually rose to $22 billion because of the social networks’ rising stock. Investors have been anxious to see how Mark Zuckerberg makes money from the deal. Rival services in Asia, most notably Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, have successfully opened up their platforms so businesses can interact with customers. It’s a strategy Facebook has also been taking with its own communications app, Messenger.

Click here for a column on what the move means for Facebook in India.

A WhatsApp representative declined to elaborate on the initiative when contacted about the posting, which local media first reported on. But the job ad suggests India is merely the beginning of a foray into digital payments. The company requires someone who “should help scale global support for digital transactions on WhatsApp.”

India is seeing unprecedented activity in digital payments, particularly since the government banned high-value currency notes in November and took a series of steps to incentivize digital payments in a country where cash remains king. Among the market’s recent entrants is Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins-backed Truecaller.


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