Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp on Wednesday said its users in India can now make purchases and send payments using rival UPI apps, debit and credit cards.
WhatsApp's latest feature Flows gives businesses the ability to create customised experiences right within chat threads, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg says virtually at the company's Annual Conversations conference in Mumbai.
"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 any 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 without having to leave the chat thread," he says.
The new feature makes it possible for WhatsApp users to shop using Alphabet's Google Pay, Walmart's PhonePe and homegrown digital payments firm Paytm. The messaging platform has partnered with fintech players like Razorpay and PayU to enable payments.
This comes over a year after payments regulator National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) allowed the company to onboard up to 100 million users for its payments service, WhatsApp Pay. That's roughly a fourth of its overall user base in the country. WhatsApp has over 400 million monthly active users in India.
"With payments in India, we're going to support other payment methods as well, including all UPI apps. This is going to make it even easier for people to pay Indian businesses within a WhatsApp chat using whatever method they prefer," says Zuckerberg.
India is leading the world in terms of how people and businesses have embraced messaging as the better way to get things done, the Meta CEO says.
The tech giant will make Flows available to businesses around the world using the WhatsApp Business Platform in the coming weeks. "With Flows, businesses can offer more services like quickly choosing your train seat, ordering food or booking an appointment," the company says in a blog post.
The company is also bringing Meta Verified to businesses using WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. "Businesses that subscribe are going to get a verified badge, account support, impersonation protection and additional features that will help people find them more easily," says Zuckerberg.
"For customers, this will be much faster and more convenient than having to jump between apps or websites. And to make it even easier to do business within a WhatsApp chat, we're also expanding the ways that people can pay for things within a chat thread," he adds.
For businesses interested in signing up, Meta Verified will come with additional premium features including the ability to create a custom WhatsApp page that will be discoverable via a web search, and multi-device support so multiple employees can respond to customers.
"We'll begin testing Meta Verified soon with small businesses using the WhatsApp Business app before introducing it to businesses on the WhatsApp Business Platform in the future," the company says.