Paytm has a message for WhatsApp: Bro, we’re coming

Talking its way to users.
Talking its way to users.
Image: EPA/Divyakant Solanki
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India’s leading mobile payments firm now wants to become a messaging giant.

Paytm is preparing to launch a messaging function within its app, a person familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

The Noida-based startup, backed by Japanese giant SoftBank and China’s Alibaba, facilitates payments between individuals and between customers and businesses. Users can also make myriad purchases, from food to flight tickets, through its mobile wallet.

Its messaging feature, which will let people share text, videos, and images, at no additional cost, could debut in two weeks, the WSJ reported.

At 230 million users, Paytm’s customer base is already bigger than WhatsApp’s 200 million in India. The latter is yet to launch its peer-to-peer payments facility in the country and business-customer communication is still on the drawing board. So Paytm could potentially lure WhatsApp users, the WSJ’s source said.

It would also put Paytm closer to Chinese giant Tencent’s WeChat app, which offers a full suite of services, from hailing cabs to paying bills, to nearly one billion users. In any case, this isn’t the first time that WeChat has been emulated in India.

The country, after all, is already the second-largest market for messaging apps globally. By 2020, its e-payments market will be worth $500 billion, contributing 15% to the country’s GDP, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

And now, Paytm is readying a lethal weapon for its armoury.