What you need to know about WhatsApp‘s payment feature launch

Post by Remco Livain

WhatsApp dives into peer-to-peer payment, with a feature roll-out in Brasil and India. This might not come as a big surprise, but the unannounced launch did catch our attention.

WhatsApp is arguably the largest messenger in the western world. More than 2 billion people use the service regularly. As a firm part of the Facebook group, WhatsApp has continued to grow in many parts of the world.

The addition of new app features is not something the team rolls out regularly. Release times and new feature drops by Facebook, appear to be somewhat ad hoc and unstructured.

Yet, this was a product launch many had been anticipating for quite some time.


WeChat paved the way to success

In Asia, WeChat is the sole „ruler“ of the messenger world. There are very few services that come even close to the power of WeChat. However, the app has yet to find its way to the western world where Facebook‘s ecosystem of communication tools is strong.

One of the core features of WeChat is that the user never needs to leave the app to place a purchase, or even browse for new products. It is an all-encompassing solution for many things we can do on a mobile device.

Whereas WhatsApp has remained fairly static – it is a „simple“ messaging tool with a limited feature set compared to WeChat – its Asian competitors have continued to add more and more features along the way.


In-app payments are a game changer for WhatsApp

Why do we think this feature is such a big deal? Being able to process-, send-, and receive payments could make WhatsApp the one stop app Facebook needs.

WhatsApp has a market penetration rate of more than 95% in many western countries. This makes it the ideal tool for interpersonal payments (peer-to-peer). Furthermore, businesses have started to embrace WhatsApp as a commerce and communication tool more in recent years.


Can payments be rolled out internationally

One big question remains, can this service be rolled out internationally? The payment service ecosystem is complex and decentralized. Hence, it remains to be seen how easily WhatsApp will be able to roll this feature out internationally.

Social commerce is one of Facebook‘s main focal points at the moment, though. With the launch of Facebook Shops and better shopping features on Instagram, it has moved forward quickly in the world of social commerce.

This P2P payment solution for WhatsApp could fit right in and become part of a wider network of commerce driven communications tools within the Facebook Group.

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