Messaging app WhatsApp plans to soon allow transactions on its WhatsApp Business app through its payment product in a bid to popularise the platform, India head Abhijit Bose said on Tuesday.
“We are looking to scale growth of businesses. All businesses need to communicate to wherever the customers are… Already, millions of micro businesses rely on the WhatsApp Business app,” Bose said at the Startup India–WhatsApp Grand Challenge.
“In not too distant future, we will make it easy for businesses to not just communicate but to transact as well. Our focus is to help in digital and financial inclusion in this country and help businesses grow,” said Bose.
The Facebook-owned company has been running its payments product, WhatsApp Pay, in beta mode with 1 million users in India since February 2018 and has been caught in the crosshairs over compliance on local storage of payments data. The Reserve Bank of India had, in April 2018, asked all payment system providers to store their data in India.
A year later, WhatsApp told the Supreme Court that it was compliant with localisation norms for payments and had appointed a third-party auditor for inspection.
The company appointed Bose, previously the CEO of mobile payments firm Ezetap, its India head in November 2018 to roll out WhatsApp Pay for over 200 million monthly active users in the country
Speaking at the same event, secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal trade (DPIIT) Ramesh Abhishek said that the department had recommended that investors in category I and II alternative investment funds be granted complete tax exemption of 5% capital gains tax, considering recommendations from the Indian Venture Capital Association (IVCA). He added that a push from the department to ensure the ease of business for startups led to 672 companies receiving an exemption letter from the Central Board of Direct taxes (CBDT) for angel tax.
WhatsApp had joined hands with government initiative Startup India in February and invited applications from innovative companies. It shortlisted 10 companies, which made a pitch to a jury comprising Vani Kola, managing director at Kalaari Capital; MakeMyTrip founder Deep Kalra; Sequoia Capital managing director Shailesh Lakhani; and Lightspeed India partner Harsha Kumar, apart from Bose.
The five selected startups will be given a cash prize of $50,000 (Rs 34.86 lakh) each.