WhatsApp Eyes Lending Option in India as Amazon rolls out Pay Later

WhatsApp, which started testing its mobile payment feature in India two years ago, could give people in its biggest market at least another financial service.

The Facebook-owned messaging platform has listed credit as one of the areas it will seek in the country in a filing with the local regulator in India. The Facebook-owned service declared credit or loans to be one of the “key objects to be pursued by it in the region” with local regulators earlier this month. No other financial services are listed in the filing.

At an event in Bangalore late last year, Abhijit Bose, head of WhatsApp in India, said he believed that India’s mobile payment industry, which has attracted hundreds of local and foreign firms in recent years, is still at a very early stage in the region, and could eventually see firms going beyond just offering people a way to send money to each other.

WhatsApp has yet to receive New Delhi’s approval for a nationwide Pay rollout in India. Earlier this year, local media reports reported that WhatsApp had begun to extend Pay’s presence in the country in different phases.

Ajit Mohan, VP for Facebook and head of India, told Media last week in an interview that only 1 million WhatsApp users in India, as before, have access to their mobile payment service.

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In recent years, hundreds of payment services in India have grown to include credit, or online lending, as they pursue a business model in the region. A number of companies, including Paytm, India’s most admired company, and MobiKwik today are providing small-ticket credit to millions of Indian users.

In recent years tens of millions of users have begun digitally transacting money in India. But most of the fees they could charge on banks and retailers for making money have been withdrawn by the local payment body. The step has led companies to pursue other financial services, such as credit and insurance, as well as targeting retailers to make money.

This year Paytm has grown to support merchants, introducing new gadgets such as a stand that shows QR check-out codes with a calculator and battery pack, a portable speaker that provides transaction voice confirmation, and a point-of-sale system with an integrated scanner and printer.

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