After months of anticipation, WhatsApp, the online messaging service, officially has the payments app as a part of its features. The online messaging system rolled out this feature only to select users across the country and within the short time of its introduction, it has become one of the most popular features of this app.
However, this induction almost did not happen because of the company’s foreign origin. In fact, this was WhatsApp’s second attempt on this front. Last year, this messaging service had tried to partner with a private bank in the country to develop a digital wallet app to facilitate payments on its platform.
All was fine till the bank and WhatsApp went to the Reserve Bank of India. Multiple stakeholders of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was not ready to allow a foreign entity to enter India’s digital payments space. According to RBI guidelines, “Non bank entities applying for authorisation shall be a company incorporated in India and registered under the Companies Act 1956 / Companies Act 2013.”
WhatsApp is a Facebook owned company and Facebook is based in the United States. Ergo, this means this company could not directly enter the Indian online payments wallet. This was last year. What changed from then to now is the fact that Government actively started promoting the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as part of its push to digitise India’s economy.
UPI allows for real time bank to bank transactions and once WhatsApp was sure this move was finalized, they jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook messenger service has had a decent run with the payments system and based on Facebook’s track record, the company decided to integrate this feature into WhatsApp as well. However, while this move came as a positive change for the messaging service, it brings to mind one important question.
Is this going to change the online payments game for banks and other companies? Is this service coming on board as a threat or as a new turn in the history of online payments? Consumer payments is a low margin game and is entirely defined by the scale of operations. On this front, WhatsApp has the potential to become a dominant game changer because of its base of 250 billion users all over the country.
Despite all its advantages, WhatsApp has one thing going against it. A little while after becoming live, the messaging service ran into a series of problems especially with Paytm raising a huge hue and cry about the safety of WhatsApp online payments. One bank which jumped on board with WhatsApp’s online payment feature is ICICI bank. India’s largest private sector bank was the first to team up with WhatsApp on this feature and it looks like the other banks are just minutes away.
With banks coming on board with WhatsApp’s new feature, it is interesting to see how two separate forces from different areas are coming together to create history for the first time. Clearly the times are changing and this move seems to be just one of those steps for an interesting future ahead.
Amazon Becomes The Second Most Valuable US Company
As the stock market closed on Tuesday end of business, a brand new discovery was made. For the first time in history, Amazon surpassed its parent company and became the second most valuable publicly listed US company!
Amazon shares closed at 2.69% at $ 1,581, for a market capitalization of $ 768 billion. With this, the company underscored Wall Street’s confidence in its relentless expansion into cloud computing, groceries and other areas of business.
Amazon’s market price surged by 81% in the last week, as shoppers started preferring online shopping over regular stores. Further, cloud computing also has had a higher preference in the last few weeks. Amazon gained $60 billion in market value in just over a month. In February, it crossed to Microsoft to become the third most valuable company in the world by that measure.
Millennials have a lot going on for them. The one thing they love? The thrill they get from shopping. However, online shopping has become the preferred platform for practically everything. Seattle based Amazon dislodged Microsoft to become the third company on the list of the most valued publicly listed companies.
While these companies all ranked very closely on the market list, Amazon surged forward because of constant innovations and improvisations. Both Apple and Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, have gotten very comfortable in their positions and gotten a little lacklustre with their products.
“They’re using their cash flow to develop new businesses,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “They could have Apple in their sights at some point.” The stock market “gurus” have given price targets for the three companies to stand at a capitalisation of $ 823 billion. On the other hand, Alphabet stands at $ 914 billion and Apple stands at $ 989 billion. If this continues, Amazon can quite easily take over Apple’s market value in a very short time span.
Walmart Flipkart Deal May get Finalised In March
India’s e commerce war is set to get extremely exciting in the coming months. One of the largest retail giants in the United States, Walmart Inc., has been upping its investment game by acquiring a large stake in Flipkart. Walmart is currently in the final leg of striking a deal that will see it spending about $ 7 billion to become the largest investor in India’s leading homegrown e commerce firm, Flipkart, which is currently locked in a fierce battle with Amazon.
According to reports, once the deal goes through, Walmart will own around a third of Flipkart’s shares, making it the majority share holder in parts. This is going to happen after purchasing stakes from existing investors, Tiger Global Management and SoftBank Group Corp. This goes against earlier reservations by Japan’s Softbank which had shown reluctance to let Walmart take the driving seat in the e commerce venture.
The deal, expected to go through at the end of this month, will raise the valuation of Flipkart’s valuation to about $ 20 billion. This increases Flipkart’s valuation drastically as it stood at only $ 12 billion in the past year. The deal is expected to get finalised in the next two weeks which means Walmart is expected to enter the Indian e commerce market by the end of March 2018 or early April 2018.
Apart from being a strong financial investment in the country, this investment by Walmart brings to front the constant rivalry between Amazon and Walmart. Looking at this massive investment from Walmart, existing investor SoftBank is looking at pulling out from its commitments to Flipkart. Once this round of investment goes through, Flipkart ends up becoming one of the largest e commerce platforms not only in India, but across the world as well.
The deal could be a major payday for all the existing investors. Flipkart’s first institutional backer, Accel India had invested $ 1 million at a valuation less than $ 5 million in 2009. The firm has already cashed in about $ 150 to $ 200 million and will see the value of its 5-6% stake swell to about $ 1 billion.
Amazon Launches Its First Debit Card In Mexico
Mexico is working towards upping its e commerce game by investing a vast amount of funds in this particular field. One of the major ways the Mexican Government is doing this is through facilitating new payment methods. However, a major problem with this form of investments lies in the multiple online frauds happening in this part of the world.
To curb the growing unrest in online payments from the residents of Mexico, Amazon launched its first ever debit card called Amazon Rechargeable. Launched for the first time in Mexico, this debit card aims at making online shopping a seamless and hassle free process.
“Clients that don’t have a credit or debit card will find Amazon Rechargeable an easy and practical way to convert cash into a payment method,” said Fernando Ramirez, Amazon’s product manager in Mexico, in a statement. Online shopping platforms rarely focus primarily on credit cards and offer debit cards only in very rare cases. This move is a first for e commerce firms throughout the world.
Amazon’s card, backed by MasterCard (MAN) and Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Banorte (GENFORETO.MX,) can be loaded with cash at convenience stores located in different places across the country. Up until last October, Amazon did not have the cash on delivery option, making it difficult for people living in remote areas of the world. Now, Amazon offers cash on delivery not only at convenience stores but during home deliveries as well.
Amazon has set the pace for other online platforms, by becoming one of the largest e commerce stores ever. To make matters exciting, the online giant has recently acquired a patent that lets it use drones to deliver packages at your doorstep from a height of at least 25 feet. With innovations happening constantly, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, claims this company will stand at a net worth of $ 1 trillion and if everything goes as planned, the e commerce platform will perhaps achieve its target within the next few years.
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