With over 450 million users on WhatsApp in India, one of its largest markets, Meta is now gearing up the platform for business messaging. Calling India as a country at the forefront of business messaging, Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Meta, on Wednesday announced a slew of new features for businesses to leverage WhatsApp.
These features were unveiled at a WhatsApp Conversations event held in Mumbai. This was the second annual Conversations conference being held by the company, and the first in India.
Among the key announcements at the event was making the WhatsApp Payment solution available in India, after a successful launch in Brazil and Singapore. This would allow users to access any payment mode while using WhatsApp. They can have access to all UPI apps, as well as other payment modes such as credit cards. WhatsApp has tied up with Razorpay and PayU to bring these payment options to users and merchants.
The announcements made by Zuckerberg are important as business messaging is the next big priority area for Meta. Within that, India as a region is of significance because it has one of the largest user bases of WhatsApp.
“India, (is) a country that's at the forefront of a lot of what we're going to talk about today. You're (India is) leading the world in terms of how people and businesses have embraced messaging as the better way to get things done,” said Zuckerberg, CEO and chairperson, Meta during the keynote session via a video link.
Meta announced three important features that will bring ease and convenience of being within the WhatsApp chat and shop for users; for businesses, these features will mean bringing their business to users in a seamless way.
These three features are Flows, WhatsApp Payment platforms, and Meta verified for businesses.
As Zuckerberg explained, Flows allows businesses to create customised experiences within chat threads. For instance, food delivery services can build a way to place an order for many of their partner restaurants, or an airline can build a way to check in for a flight and pick a seat, all without having to leave the chat thread.
“For customers, this will be much faster and more convenient than having to jump between apps or websites,” he added.
Meta also announced the availability of Meta Verified for Businesses on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook. This will further make transacting with businesses on these platforms more trustworthy.
The focus on business messaging is part of Zuckerberg's focus on monetizing WhatsApp platform. And the markets where WhatsApp is big are India, Brazil and Indonesia. Daily conversations between people and businesses more than doubled in India since last year, said the company.
According to Meta, nearly one billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct – whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, interacting with stories. Moreover, every day, there are over 600 million conversations between people and businesses on these platforms.
“We are already in the messaging first world. The fact that Conversations are happening in India, is testament to the fact that business messaging is massive in India. Hence India is an incredibly important priority market for business messaging,” shared Nikila Srinivasan, VP product management, business messaging, Meta in an exclusive interaction with Business Standard.
Some of the businesses that have already seen the impact of these features include Redbus, Bharat Gas, Bangalore Metro among others. For instance, half a million metro tickets are being booked using WhatsApp. Similarly, 150,000 cylinder gas are booked daily by Bharat Gas, of which 94 per cent are being done using WhatsApp.