WhatsApp is looking for a country head in India, according to a job posting on Facebook’s career page. Note that, this is first such position for WhatsApp in India. The job description focuses on its payments service. The Facebook-owned instant messaging app had launched its UPI-powered payments service in India in February,

In the posting, the social network company writes that WhatsApp is looking for someone to lead its efforts in India including products for people and businesses along with its interest in peer-to-peer payments. The role requires 15+ years of experience in product-driven companies which must include 5+ years of experience with payment technologies in India.

Besides payments, the company wants the head to work with product and engineering teams, as well as handle country’s operations, and represent WhatsApp generally in country as needed. The country head will be based in Mumbai (the US-based instant messaging company is apparently going to have its first office in India in Mumbai) and will report to Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s Chief Operating Officer based in California.

MediaNama’s take

The development comes at the time when it seems important for the company to have a head dedicated to India. Its payments launch attracted some anger over its lack of interoperability and alleged disruption of an ‘open’ system. (The openness of UPI is up for debate.)

Following the launch, incumbent payment services in India felt WhatsApp was playing by its own rules. Most vocal among them was the PayTM CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma. In an interview with CNBC Sharma said, “WhatsApp is killing India’s ‘beautiful, open UPI system”, and that it has gotten preferential access to UPI. He says that “it does not allow transactions to non-WhatsApp UPI handles, UPI handles created via other apps, does not include passwords and logins, and QR code scanning. Everyone else has 3 factors of authentication: login, password and then UPI pin. WhatsApp doesn’t have login and password.”

Besides payment, WhatsApp has also been through other controversies such as country’s market regulator SEBI had launched the probe in November 2017, on the trading data after it was revealed that financial results were circulated on WhatsApp before exchanges were informed. Many of the WhatsApp groups’ postings were termed ‘heard on the street (HOS). In this matter, the market regulator launched investigation against individuals like analysts, brokers, investment advisors, company officials, which included accesing WhatsApp information for sharing unpublished price sensitive information (UPSI) –an information shared before disclosing the same to stock exchanges– a violation of regulator’s rule. However, WhatsApp refused to share user-specific information.