Facebook is planning a digital payments service for WhatsApp in India, the app’s largest market.
A recently posted job listing for a WhatsApp “digital transaction lead” for India reveals that the messaging app plans to work with local banks and eventually “help scale global support for digital transactions on WhatsApp.” A separate report by Indian news outlet The Ken says that WhatsApp plans to make the feature available within the next six months.
“India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we’re understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. “We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users.”
Facilitating payments would be a first for WhatsApp, which Facebook acquired for $22 billion in 2014. (Digital payments are already supported in Facebook’s Messenger app.) WhatsApp has over 1.2 billion monthly users, and cofounder Brian Acton recently revealed that India is the app’s largest market with 200 million users.
During a trip to India in February, Acton said that WhatsApp was in discussions with the Indian government about digital payments. The popularity of mobile payments in India has surged in recent months after the country’s prime minister banned high-value cash in November. The job description for WhatsApp’s digital transaction lead says the person should be familiar with India’s Unified Payments Interface, which lets money be digitally transferred between bank accounts and other services.
Facebook has yet to monetize WhatsApp, but the app is currently testing the ability for businesses to message users directly. WhatsApp recently appointed its first chief operating officer, and there are multiple business and monetization-related job listings for the app on Facebook’s website.