According to reports, Facebook is working on a new payment service through Messenger in India – independent from its WhatsApp payment system it launched in the country last year.
Mobile payments are huge in China, but Facebook can’t do anything about it. Apart from the inability to tap the Chinese market due to the country’s internet legislation, platforms such as WeChat would still dominate. What Facebook can do though, is tap another huge market – India. The country has great potential, especially since nearly 10% of Facebook’s 2.1 billion users are there. So, following in the footsteps of its recent launch of payments through WhatsApp in India, Facebook is now working on testing bringing Messenger payments there as well.
As a reference, Messenger payments are already supported in the US, the UK, and France, so a big market like India is a logical continuation. In India, Facebook is starting to test the ability for users to top up pre-paid mobile credit, but this may soon be extended to peer-to-peer payments for users to buy things via Marketplace or even peer-to-peer money transfers, and payments to online merchants via Messenger.
At this point, it would also make sense for Facebook to tap into the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in the country, which allows banks to make instant money transfers between bank accounts. UPI has been opened to developers to build their own applications for free.
To drive the payments effort in India, Facebook has already made some strategic hires – one of these being Sunali Rohra who came from Visa. Rohra, who comes on board as the head of payments partnership for India and South Asia, will have to build important partnerships with government and private organisations to make Facebook’s plans work.
With other giants like Amazon and Google already working in this space, Facebook’s efforts certainly won’t be a walk in the park.