Paytm’s Mo­bile App will Let You Chat Soon

Pay­ments com­pany’s move fol­lows dig­i­tal pay­ment op­tions of­fered by mes­sag­ing plat­forms

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Mugdha.Vari­yar @times­group.com

Ben­galuru: Dig­i­tal pay­ments com­pany Paytm will launch a chat fa­cil­ity built into its mo­bile app which will al­low user-to-user com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The fea­ture is ex­pected to be launched later this month, a per­son aware of the de­vel­op­ment told ET.

A spokesper­son for Paytm de­clined to com­ment on the mat­ter. Paytm, which also runs an on­line mar­ket­place, Paytm Mall, has about 230 mil­lion app users. The com­pany hopes to woo its pay­ment ser­vice users to this new fea­ture and help busi­nesses con­nect with con- sumers, the per­son said.

With this move, Paytm will be tak­ing on mes­sag­ing plat­forms like Hike Mes­sen­ger and What­sApp. While Hike re­cently launched pay­ments through wal­let and Uni­fied Pay­ment In­ter­face (UPI), What­sApp is ex­pected to be­gin its pay­ments ser­vice soon. What­sApp’s busi­ness head Neeraj Arora also sits on the board of Paytm.

“Con­ver­sa­tion is the new in­ter­face,” said Vivek Bel­gavi, leader for fin­tech, at PwC In­dia.

This is not Paytm’s first at­tempt at a mes­sag­ing ser­vice. In 2014, it had launched a shop­ping app with a mo­bile mes­sen­ger em­bed­ded in it to al­low cus­tomers to ne­go­ti­ate with sellers. But Paytm is now look­ing to cre- ate a one-stop place for its users, of­fer­ing not just pay­ments but also an ecom­merce plat­form, in­vest­ment op­tions in dig­i­tal gold as well as book­ing ser­vices. The com­pany re­cently launched its pay­ments bank.

Other ecom­merce com­pa­nies such as Flip­kart are also adopt­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach. ET had re­ported in June that Flip­kart was also look­ing at a WeChat model to cre­ate an ‘ev­ery­thing app’ for ser­vices such as or­der­ing food, hail­ing a cab, plan­ning a va­ca­tion, or buy­ing daily es­sen­tials. How­ever, Flip­kart failed in its at­tempt at an in-app chat ser­vice called Ping, Users of Paytm app which the com­pany shut last year, barely 10 months af­ter launch­ing it.

“In­dian in­ter­net com­pa­nies are look­ing to­wards China and want to build a su­per-app,” said Satish Meena, se­nior fore­cast an­a­lyst at For­rester Re­search. “It is still to be seen if this can be suc­cess­ful in In­dia.”

Meena said for Paytm, a mes­sen­ger ser­vice would help con­nect its ecosys­tem of sellers and con­sumers as well as build a larger ecosys­tem for its users.

Paytm’s high cus­tomer base gives it an edge when it comes to get­ting trac­tion for its chat ser­vice. While What­sApp has over 200 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users in In­dia, Hike claims to have over 100 mil­lion. Flip­kart has over 100 mil­lion users.

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