WhatsApp India has hired Manesh Mahatme, a senior executive with Amazon Pay India, to lead its payments vertical, Reuters reported citing unnamed sources. Mahatme has been with Amazon Pay for nearly 7 years as its head of business, product and technology, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Back in August 2020, WhatsApp published a job post on Facebook stating that it was looking for a director to head its payments operations in India. This person would report to Abhijit Bose, the head of WhatsApp India, and would be responsible for developing WhatsApp’s long-term strategy for payments. WhatsApp has nearly 500 million users in India, which makes the country the biggest market for the end-to-end encryption messaging service.
MediaNama reached out to WhatsApp and Amazon Pay India for comments. Their responses will be added once received.
The roll-out WhatsApp’s payment service, on the Unified Payment Interface, was delayed for over two years due to regulatory concerns related to the Reserve Bank of India’s data localisation norms. It has also faced legal challenges in the courts over its payment service roll-out and data collection methods. MediaNama reported that WhatsApp was ready to go-live with its UPI service in November 2019 but the RBI intervened and asked the National Payments Corporation of India to conduct more checks and ensure specific data was not being stored by the company abroad. This led to delays in WhatsApp Pay’s roll-out.
It was only in November 2020, that WhatsApp got the green light from the NPCI to roll-out its UPI service, albeit in a graded manner with the user base capped at 20 million. However, three months after launching WhatsApp Pay has got off to a disappointing start. According to data from the NPCI, WhatsApp Pay processed 55 million transactions worth Rs 32.41 crore in February, compared to 56 million transactions worth Rs 36.44 crore in January.
WhatsApp Pay has grand ambitions in India. The company wants to combine its WhatsApp for Business service and UPI payments facility to provide financial services to the unbanked population. In December 2020, the messaging platform said that it will soon allow consumers purchase affordable sachet-sized health insurance policies and micro-pension products and eventually credit. The company has devised a four-pronged strategy which includes digitising small businesses, easier access to business services and merchants of all sizes, digital payments and scaling social impact programs.
- UPI failure rate improves in February, PhonePe retains leadership position
- WhatsApp India to introduce micro-pension and health insurance soon
- WhatsApp says Facebook has no access to UPI transaction data