Bahl is the co-founder and CEO of the Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal.

WhatsApp is also focused on rolling out an app exclusively for businesses in India—earlier this year, it rolled out a beta version for merchants. Bose’s earlier stint as head of product for Intuit’s small and medium (SME) business offerings will be useful here.

“Bose has dealt with regulatory and other problems that have been a problem for WhatsApp. Moreover, he has a fair knowledge about the digital business ecosystem as well as the SME business in general and these are the two areas that WhastApp wants to grow,” said a founder of another fintech company, requesting anonymity.

Data localisation

In April, India’s banking regulator had mandated all payment companies to store data locally by Oct. 15 this year. While WhatsApp claimed it met these guidelines, the central bank officials were reportedly not pleased with its efforts. The messaging giant, they said, was only mirroring payments in India, that is keeping a copy of the transaction within the country’s boundaries.

As a result, WhatsApp’s payment business didn’t get the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) clearance. Then, on Oct. 10, WhatsApp said it had built a system to store data locally and is now complying with the norms.

Now, Bose’s responsibility will include keeping the RBI in good humour.

Fake news

The messaging service has a major fake news problem in India that has even been linked to mob lynchings. The problem is so acute that the company was even pulled up by the government and forced to take some major steps.

“Much of what is shared is unverified and has caused serious problems by enabling the spread of disinformation. Curbing this will clearly be the first challenge for WhatsApp,” Pranjal Sharma, an economic analyst and author, told Quartz.

These concerns are especially pressing ahead of the 2019 general election, given how widespread politically-oriented misinformation is.

“WhatsApp has stepped up public education about misinformation and is working with organisations like DEF (the Digital Empowerment Foundation) to expand digital literacy training for consumer leaders,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told Quartz when asked if Bose would manage its anti-misinformation work in India as well. “With the new team WhatsApp will continue to expand on these efforts. Bose will be responsible for all the efforts.”

Legal challenges

Given the scale of WhatsApp’s misinformation problem, some speculate that it may be forced to break its end-to-end encryption, enabling the government to read users’ messages.

“At present there’s a provision under the Information Technology Act by which the government can specify encryption standards to be used, which may be operationalised by the government,” Gupta told Quartz. “Or it may change the law to say that bulk end-to-end encryption cannot be implemented on an instant messaging platform.”


In the past few months, WhatsApp has taken its first substantial steps towards monetisation.

In August, it launched business products through which companies can communicate with customers. Earlier this month, it announced that it would insert advertisements in the “Status” section of its mobile app’s user interface.

While announcing Bose’s appointment, WhatsApp mentioned its business products had a combined user base of over one million in India. Bose is likely to play a key role in setting the roadmap on this front. 

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