Payment Service will Come by the End of the Year
In a video call with Shelley Singh, the head of WhatsApp India, Abhijit Bose, discusses the relevance of WhatsApp Business and how it is different from other ecommerce sites. Edited excerpts of the interview:
What is the relevance of the app for small businesses?
WhatsApp’s mission is to connect people and entities in a very secure, private and personalised way. What started as a P2P service now enables users to connect the same way in a P2B conversation. 62% of small & medium businesses in India have told us that WhatsApp Business helps them increase sales and is essential for running their business.
But doesn’t the lack of a payments option come in the way of the business app?
We hope to offer the service by the end of the year. Our goal is to enable end-to-end communication cycle between small businesses and customers. Payment is just one more step in how businesses interact with users.
We look at it more from how to enable small business to complete their transaction more seamlessly, become more efficient, increase their sales. And, of course, payment allows that last leg to be completed in a seamless way. Lot of the communication is already happening on WhatsApp.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sales, they have to collect the payment in some other way and that causes friction. We believe we can make business owners’ life easier and it will help in increasing sales.
WhatsApp Business is free but why did you make the business API application a paid service?
Business API is a different product. It is a paid service for medium and large businesses that communicate with customers all over the world. These companies operate at a larger scale by responding to millions of requests a day and also by keeping communications simple, secure, and reliable. It is a service that is currently open to a select few. We enable it for the right use-case for the right size of business.
An API version is not something that your typical small store owner would be able to support. Companies like MakeMyTrip are able to use it because of the sheer scale of operations. So there are different needs that each of our products are addressing.
What is your growth outlook for 12-24 months?
That is hard to say. In a way, growth of WhatsApp is related to the digital growth in the country. The difference between now versus early years is that the local WhatsApp team is focused on improving engagements and use in many more sectors. This is a more proactive approach. We will invest to address the needs of different sectors — particularly small businesses — and to increase financial inclusion.