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25 Feb 2017

WhatsApp may soon enter digital payments- CoFounder

WhatsApp planning to add digital payments feature

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton has indicated that the popular messaging app may soon venture into digital payments space.

Acton was in New Delhi on the app's eighth birthday on Friday. He also met IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for discussions. WhatsApp has about 200 million users in India, making up their biggest market in the customer base of 1.2 billion globally.

In context

WhatsApp planning to add digital payments feature

WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion

Acton and Ukraine-born Jan Koum had founded WhatsApp in 2009. Three years ago, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for as much as $19 billion. WhatsApp has a team of 80 engineers and never had to spend on marketing, public relations and user acquisition.


What did Acton discuss with the IT minister?

Acton said he endorsed the Indian government's digitalization plans. He and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad discussed "how you could use digital services for civic engagement and promote democracy. We talked about electronic payments and other areas."

Most importantly, Acton is exploring India as a market for "WhatsApp for business", a commercial messaging product for small and medium business still in development.

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What do we know about 'WhatsApp for business'?

For the first time since Facebook acquired it, WhatsApp will look at revenue generation. The new app will help entrepreneurs who want to manage a customer contact list that's independent of their phone address book.

It targets millions of small merchants, neighbourhood shop owners and doctors who have less than 10 employees and want to reach out to a larger number of people.

On the recent 'Status' feature on WhatsApp


On the recent 'Status' feature on WhatsApp

Acton said 'Status' was developed after years of putting it off to focus on other developments. He admits that the initial response has not been positive but it is too early to pass a judgement.

WhatsApp had overnight introduced a new 'status' feature similar to Instagram and Snapchat stories. Users can upload pictures and videos as their status, which will disappear after 24 hours.

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