In news emerging from Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp, it is learnt that they have plans exclusively for India. Based on the statements issued by the company‚Äôs official spokesperson, WhatsApp is working on ideas, which can help businesses in India, use its platform, to reach out to customers. The messaging app is already quite popular in the country and the number of users is said to be 200 million, making it one of the largest around the world.
WhatsApp is still free for the users and the company does not plan to change that anytime soon. However, Facebook has been constantly searching for ways to monetise the platform it acquired at a huge price of $22billion 3 years back. Even last year, the company had stated that it was working with organisations like banks and airlines to explore ways they can communicate with their customers using WhatsApp instead of the short messaging SMS they were using. In a country like India, 100% bank customers have to have smartphone ownership for this idea to work. One can expect that the airlines can definitely try it if launched.
The only positive aspect out of the statement issued by the spokesperson is that these plans are still work in progress and India will play a huge role in it. Facebook will rely largely on its parent service to bring these plans for WhatsApp since there are already some five million businesses sitting on Facebook who could be tapped first. These are businesses using Facebook to advertise their products/ services.
Besides the messaging activity, the other major foray on the cards could be digital payment services. This would be a test case for the company and would be purely India-specific and is aimed at capitalising on the Digital India initiative of the Government of India. Again, this is still in the conceptual stage.