Paytm to launch chat feature in mobile app

Paytm to launch chat feature in mobile app
BENGALURU: Digital payments company Paytm will launch a chat facility built into its mobile app which will allow user-to-user communication. The feature is expected to be launched later this month, a person aware of the development told ET.
A spokesperson for Paytm declined to comment on the matter. Paytm, which also runs an online marketplace, Paytm Mall, has about 230 million app users. The company hopes to woo its payment service users to this new feature and help businesses connect with consumers, the person said.

With this move, Paytm will be taking on messaging platforms like Hike Messenger and WhatsApp.While Hike recently launched payments through wallet and Unified Payment Interface (UPI), WhatsApp is expected to begin its payments service soon. WhatsApp’s business head Neeraj Arora also sits on the board of Paytm.

“Conversation is the new interface,“ said Vivek Belgavi, leader for fintech, at PwC India.

This is not Paytm’s first attempt at a messaging service. In 2014, it had launched a shopping app with a mobile messenger embedded in it to allow customers to negotiate with sellers. But Paytm is now looking to create a one-stop place for its users, offering not just payments but also an ecommerce platform, investment options in digital gold as well as booking services. The company recently launched its payments bank.

Other ecommerce companies such as Flipkart are also adopting a similar approach. ET had reported in June that Flipkart was also looking at a WeChat model to create an `everything app’ for services such as ordering food, hailing a cab, planning a vacation, or buying daily essentials. However, Flipkart failed in its attempt at an in-app chat service called Ping, which the company shut last year, barely 10 months after launching it.
“Indian internet companies are looking towards China and want to build a super-app,“ said Satish Meena, senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research. “It is still to be seen if this can be successful in India.“

Meena said for Paytm, a messenger service would help connect its ecosystem of sellers and consumers as well as build a larger ecosystem for its users.

Paytm’s high customer base gives it an edge when it comes to getting traction for its chat service. While WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India, Hike claims to have over 100 million. Flipkart has over 100 million users.

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