WhatsApp eyeing e-comm, digital payments in India

Thomas K Thomas Mumbai | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 24, 2017

bl25_Brian Acton

Popular messaging platform WhatsApp has 200 million active users in India, making it the largest market for the Silicon Valley-based firm. The Facebook-owned company, however, wants to go beyond just being an instant messaging platform and become relevant to more Indians.

Speaking to BusinessLine, WhatsApp Co-Founder Brian Acton said the company was looking at how it can be used in the e-commerce and digital payments segments, among others.

“I had a great meeting with IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad where we discussed a number of things, including how WhatsApp can be used for civic engagements, how WhatsApp could be used for e-commerce and digital transactions and payments. All these are in the space of opportunity for WhatsApp. We would continue to research, evaluate and figure out what we can build that best serves the people of India,” Acton said.

WhatsApp has over a billion users globally. Acton is now pushing the company to hit a billion users in India. “I think a billion users in India is achievable. But the limiting factors are smartphone adoption and affordable data plans. Without these, I don’t think we will hit a billion in two years,” he said. “Also, when you look at growth you look at the economic S curve, where at a certain point you hit a saturation point. We have not hit saturation point; we are still at the sweet spot of the curve.”

On the concerns around H-1B visas, Acton said the company was being cautious. “We are observing the actions the US President is taking and reconciling that with our goals. Our goal is to hire the best and brightest and for us the H-1B programme is important,” he said.

Published on February 24, 2017
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