India’s leading digital payments firm Paytm plans to launch a messaging service to rival Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp by the end of this month, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. according to sources familiar with the development. The company will convert its payment users to messaging and help businesses connect with consumers.
Paytm’s messaging service will allow users to send audio, video and pictures and texts, the source, who declined to be named, said. Paytm currently has more than 225 million users. Earlier this year, another home grown messaging platform Hike rolled out an in-app electronic payments service to cash in on rising digital transactions in India. E-payments in India surged after the country banned old high-value currency notes late last year.
The move is also likely inspired by WeChat, the Chinese social media and chat app developed by Tencent, which is fighting Paytm –backer Alibaba in China. WeChat, however, also began as a popular chat app before introducing payments, taking on Alibaba’s Alipay.
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday was first to report Paytm’s plan to launch a messaging service. Paytm did not respond to an email seeking comment while WhatsApp was not immediately reachable for comment.