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WhatsApp bets on e-commerce in India with new business features

Meta India head Sandhya Devanathan recently said that India is a key market for monetisation of WhatsApp.

Source: WhatsApp Press Release

Meta-owned WhatsApp on September 20 launched three new features for its business users that are geared at increasing e-commerce transactions on the messaging app:

  • Ordering food and booking tickets directly from a chat: A new feature called Flows will allow businesses to provide more interactive in-chat options for users looking to purchase a product or service such as selecting a train seat, ordering a meal, or booking an appointment. “With Flows, businesses will be able to provide rich menus and customizable forms that support different needs. We’ll make Flows available to businesses around the world using the WhatsApp Business Platform in the coming weeks,” the company announced.
  • Partnership with RazorPay and PayU for payments: Users can now pay for orders from within WhatsApp. “People in India can add items to their cart and send a payment using the method of their choice from all supported UPI apps, debit and credit cards, and more.” WhatsApp is partnering with Razorpay and PayU to enable this feature.
  • Verified Businesses: Businesses on WhatsApp are now eligible to receive verification from Meta, which could help increase the legitimacy of a business, as a verified badge will be shown to users. Verification is a paid service that comes with other premium features such as enhanced account support, impersonation protection, the ability to create a custom WhatsApp page that is discoverable via a web search, and multi-device support so multiple employees can respond to customers.

WhatsApp is a free service for users, and for a long time, the company did not have any revenue source until it launched WhatsApp Business, through which it charges businesses for sending messages to customers. In recent years, it has been improving its offering for businesses, and the latest features are a significant upgrade to how businesses can leverage the messaging platform to cater to their customers.

As business conversations increase on the app, WhatsApp will be able to monetise on them. For instance, WhatsApp could start charging a commission for products and services sold through its platform, similar to how Amazon and Flipkart charge sellers. Meta India head Sandhya Devanathan recently told the Economic Times that India is a key market for monetisation of WhatsApp.

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