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.
Paytm Acquires Mobile Tech Startup, Cube26
The digital payment behemoth Paytm, acquired a Delhi based technology startup, Cube26. The company did not reveal the amount of the deal but said the Cube26 team will align with Paytm to work toward building special engagement features on the Paytm application. Earlier, Cube26 raised $ 7.7 million in funding from two of the famous companies who are known for acquisitions, Tiger Global and Flipkart in the year 2015.
Madhur Deora, the Chief Financial Officer at Paytm said, We are focused on building a more immersive and feature rich mobile experience for our large active user base and with this acquisition, the Cube26 team will work with the Paytm team to add more social engagement features to our products and services.
About the company, Cube26
Cube26 develops customized Android operating systems for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs.) The company is currently building a platform between local service providers and smartphone users through their local app and game store to enable product led monetization.
The tech startup was founded in the year 2012, by Saurav Kumar, Abhilekh Agarwal and Aakash Jain.
However, post the deal, the CEO of Cube26, Saurav Kumar said, Our team has been building technology products that are used by millions of users. I believe our diversified experience in creating smarter products across software and hardware segment will help add value to Paytm and to several of its products and services (sic.)
This deal made waves soon after the digital payment behemoth announced the latest services under Paytm Inbox on its app. Paytm added exciting new features such as in app Live TV, News, Cricket, Entertainment Videos and Games to its messaging service ‘Inbox’. The company has aligned with several content providers to offer infotainment to its users.
Paytm was founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma in the year 2010. It is available in 10 Indian languages and offers online services like mobile recharges, utility bill payments, travel, movies and events bookings. Not only that but Paytm also provides in store payments at grocery stores, fruits and vegetable shops, restaurants, parking and various other places. It is now valued at an enormous $ 10 billion. Currently, Paytm has more than 120 million monthly active users and strives to grow further with its additional features and updates.
Amazon India And Flipkart To Clash Over Luggage Category!
The two of the famous e commerce platforms will now be competing in a new product category. Yes, this is the new product category luggage, Flipkart is striving hard to enter. With the online retailing getting intense by the day, these platforms would clash over in this category!
Rishi Vasudev, the vice president of Flipkart, is pretty confident of outpacing Amazon by the end of this year. He said, Right now, the gap between the market share of Amazon and Flipkart is marginal, we expect the market share to tilt in our favour to 60-40 by the end of this year.
However, Amazon India launched the luggage category on Amazon Fashion in the year 2014 and claims to have experienced an immense growth.
The business head at Amazon India, Arun Sirdeshmukh, said There is an increasing demand for travel merchandise across the country, with respect to the same, luggage is an important category for us.
Recently, Amazon entered the latest negotiations midway with an attempt to outbid Walmart by offering a deal valuation of $ 22.5 billion for Flipkart.
Flipkart was India’s largest e commerce company until Amazon entered India, giving Flipkart tough competition. Not only that but Flipkart leads the e commerce smartphone market with around 54 % share, while, Amazon trails with 30 % market share. Alongside, Flipkart’s Myntra is also set to expand offline stores from 12 to 100 in the next 2 years. Well, looks like Flipkart is all buckled up to become the king of e commerce by expanding in almost all the e tail categories! Recently, the e commerce giant, Flipkart was in talks for its $ 20 billion deal with the US e tailer, Walmart. Post that, the co founder, Sachin Bansal left the company and the company was making headlines for all the right reasons.
Flipkart is all set to revamp its strategies and with its immense acquisitions, there is definitely much more to look for in the near future!
Facebook Is Losing A Top Executive!
After serving the company for almost a decade now, Elliot Schrage, the policy and communications head of Facebook, is stepping down.
According to reports, Elliot will continue to stay with Facebook until the company finds his replacement. The candidates to replace him include Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s Head of Global Public Policy and Rachel Whetstone, the former top Communications and Policy Executive at Google and Uber Technologies Inc.
Post his exit, Elliot will be serving as an adviser to the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Elliot expressed his desire to start a new chapter in his life, Leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy – but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else. Mark, Sheryl and I have been discussing this for a while.
He announced his decision in a Facebook post on Thursday and declined to comment beyond his statement.
The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg addressed Mr. Schrage as “one of the most creative and strategic people I have worked with.” Back in the day, Elliot left the tech giant, Google and joined Facebook in the year 2008.
Over the years, Elliot played a key role in implementing Facebook’s strategy! However, he came under fire for his influence in giving out responses to Facebook’s infamous scandal, Cambridge Analytica. He was involved in various public relations predicaments regarding the controversial issues of Facebook in recent years. Not only that but he was also credited with internally encouraging Facebook to be transparent in how it addressed criticisms.
A spokesperson for Facebook also added Elliot had discussed his desire to leave his current role with both Sandberg and Zuckerberg as far back as 2016. The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg expressed his gratitude for Elliot saying, You’ve made an extraordinary contribution to Facebook, dealing with some of our toughest challenges and helping enable some of our biggest opportunities.
We wish Elliot Schrage all the best for his future endeavours!
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