Speaking at the live pitch day of Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge, WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose said that the social messaging company’s focus is to expand digital and financial inclusion, to help businesses across India.
“WhatsApp has already made it simple for families to stay connected in India and around the world. Now we’re looking to support and scale the local businesses that can leverage our platform to positively impact the community and country,” he added.
He also noted that businesses communication needs to happen where their customers are interacting and that’s where WhatsApp Business can make a difference. The company also hopes to soon enable businesses to transact on WhatsApp as well.
WhatsApp Invests In Indian Startups
The WhatsApp India head also stressed on the importance of Indian startups in the global technology innovations. India has proven to propel highly innovative ideas that are making significant impact to society and the economy,
“I believe we are only now entering the golden age of Indian start-up ecosystem and in the next five years we will see an explosion of globally important tech companies that not only solve major problems here at home but will take their tech, expertise, and business models across the world,” said Bose.
Bose attributed this prediction to two reasons, first, because of the challenges and complexity of building a business in India. Second, because the scale and competitiveness of the market dynamics that Indian entrepreneurs are solving are much tougher than many sectors in the US.
He added that there are many forms and areas in which WhatsApp can and will invest in Indian market. One of which is helping empower and scale India’s innovation though homegrown start up ecosystem which is the company had launched the Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge.
The Challenge had awarded $50K each to five finalists including telemedicine startup MedCords, virtual reality content platform Melzo, WhatsApp-based conversational AI company Javis, agritech platform Gramophone, and energy saving product company MinionLabs.
WhatsApp Payments In India Still Stalled
However, the WhatsApp payments app has been stuck in trial mode since 2018. Earlier in May, WhatsApp had confirmed to the Supreme Court of India that only the trial version of WhatsApp Payments is underway in the country, and India-wide roll-out will only happen after the company complies with the government’s data localisation mandate.
The RBI circular of April 2018 made it mandatory for a payment service to have offices and store payments data in India. Following this, an August 2018 petition in the supreme court had alleged that the rule appears to be violated by the WhatsApp as it is a foreign company having no offices or servers in India.
WhatsApp Payments will be competing with the likes of Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay and PhonePe for a share of the massive digital payments ecosystem in India.