Meta Platforms Inc. is set to introduce its WhatsApp payment feature in India, enabling users to conveniently buy products and services from nearby businesses through chat.
After the launch of the service in Brazil and Singapore, the change affects the market of more than 400 million WhatsApp users. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the plan at an event in Mumbai on Wednesday.
“I am excited to announce that we are bringing this service to India,” he said in prepared remarks. “This will make it even easier for people to pay Indian businesses in a WhatsApp conversation using any method.”
Meta, which bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, has been trying to generate more revenue by charging companies for some premium features. The new payment service supports credit and debit cards, as well as Indian apps similar to Venmo or Zelle. Consumers can use it for free, and businesses pay a processing fee similar to a credit card transaction.
WhatsApp is especially popular in places like India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico, where it’s common for people to chat with local businesses using the service. More than 200 million businesses rely on WhatsApp’s Business App to communicate with customers.
But turning that popularity into revenue hasn’t been an easy road for Metal, which also owns Facebook and Instagram. Zuckerberg has said that the company’s drive to monetize WhatsApp has lagged behind efforts at its other social media apps. Bringing payment services to India could attract more users and businesses to the platform, creating a greater opportunity to make money.
WhatsApp’s Business App is currently free, but includes some paid features. WhatsApp also makes money through click-to-message ads, which allow businesses to create ads on Instagram and Facebook that link to a WhatsApp conversation. Zuckerberg has said such ads, which also run on its Messenger app, could generate $10 billion a year for Meta.
WhatsApp also makes money by billing large companies for direct conversations with customers. In the last quarter, Zuckerberg said the number of companies using paid messaging products doubled from a year earlier.
When Meta first launched payments for WhatsApp Brazil in 2020, regulators blocked the company’s efforts due to antitrust concerns. It was approved last March. WhatsApp does not expect to face regulation in India, where users have already been sending money to family and friends for years.