In a filing with the local regulator in India, the company has listed credit as one of the areas it could explore in the country. The Facebook-owned service declared providing credit or loan as one of the “main objects to be pursued by it in the country” with the local regulator earlier this month.
At an event in Bangalore late last year, Abhijit Bose, WhatsApp’s head in India, said he believed that mobile payments market in India, which has attracted dozens of local and international firms in recent years, is still at a very early stage in the country and may eventually see firms move beyond just offering a way for people to send money to one another.
WhatsApp has yet to receive approval from New Delhi for a nationwide rollout of Pay in India. Local media reports claimed earlier this year that WhatsApp had started to expand Pay’s reach in the country in various phases.
Ajit Mohan, a Facebook VP and India head, told TechCrunch in an interview last week that only 1 million WhatsApp users in India, same as before, have access to its mobile payment service.
Dozens of payment services in India have expanded to credit, or online lending, in recent quarters as they search for a business model in the country. A number of firms including Paytm, India’s most-valued startup, and MobiKwik today offer small ticket credit to millions of users in India.
Tens of millions of users have started to digitally transact money in India in recent years. But the local payments body has removed most of the fees they could levy on banks and merchants to make money. The move has resulted in firms exploring other financial services such as credit and insurance and target merchants to make money.
This year, Paytm has expanded to serve merchants, launching new gadgets such as a stand that displays QR check-out codes that comes with a calculator and a battery pack, a portable speaker that provides voice confirmations of transactions and a point-of-sale machine with built-in scanner and printer. The company is offering these gadgets to them as part of a subscription service that helps it establish a steady flow of revenue. Paytm’s Money arm, which offers lending, insurance and investing services, has amassed over 3 million users.
Flipkart’s PhonePe, another major player in India’s payments market, today serves more than 175 million users and over 8 million merchants. Its app serves as a platform for other businesses to reach users. The company is currently not taking a cut for the real estate on its app.
WhatsApp’s expansion in mobile payments could create new challenges for other players. India’s mobile payments market is estimated to be worth $1 trillion by 2023, according to Credit Suisse.