WhatsApp is writing a custom message for large enterprises
BENGALURU: After recently launching a mobile app for small businesses, WhatsApp is preparing to add several new features for large enterprises including customer support and possibly merchant payments as well, according to people familiar with the developments.
WhatsApp, which last month introduced a payments feature on its messaging app, has been working with companies including hotels network Oyo and ticketing platform BookMyShow to allow them to communicate with their customers.
The Facebook-owned company is now developing a customer relationship management (CRM) software that it will introduce initially for companies using its application programming interface (API), said one person aware of the matter. This feature is expected to roll out in six-nine months.
Till late last year, WhatsApp had about 10 enterprises using its API (which entails core tools for building applications), as per industry sources.
WhatsApp is expected to expand its payments facility to include customer-to-merchant transactions to offer a complete solution to enterprises.
“WhatsApp will most likely use the Facebook Messenger playbook for enterprises. Their services could range from messaging, calls and maybe even payments in the future,” said Nikhil Kumar, head of developer ecosystem, India Stack.
WhatsApp didn’t comment on the merchant payments feature but confirmed it is testing an enterprise technology for larger businesses to make it easier for companies to connect with their customers and share useful information.
“We are building and testing two new tools that create more value for people and businesses on WhatsApp,” a spokesperson for WhatsApp said in an email. “In January, we launched WhatsApp Business app for small businesses on Android. We are also testing an enterprise solution for larger businesses. Both tools make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers and share useful information like flight information, delivery confirmations, and other updates.”
For businesses, particularly startups, this will mean using WhatsApp to build on customer support and other features such as payment reconciliation.
One such use case is Instamojo, which offers payment solutions to micro-merchants.
“We are looking forward to shift most of our customer support to WhatsApp, especially if the app brings in customer management systems like CRM,” said Instamojo chief executive Sampad Swain. “The most important thing in customer support is the response time, which can be cut down by using WhatsApp and as a result lead to increase in customer satisfaction.”
Another payments company is looking to add features around WhatsApp’s enterprise offerings.
“We have plans to open up WhatsApp as an additional payment feature on our terminals. Merchant payments will need additional features like reconciliation of all transactions. We are trying to build such solutions but are at an early stage now,” said a top executive at a Bengaluru-based payment solution provider.
WhatsApp’s messaging app is the most widely used in India, an advantage the company is seeking to leverage for expanding in the country and disrupt segments such as digital payments.
“With more than 200 million monthly users on its platform in India, WhatsApp is trying to monetize its messaging service through mobile payments. While Paytm remains the leader in the India mobile payment world, WhatsApp is viewing India as a strong potential market to launch its payment service given the entrenched app/messaging in the daily lives of many Indian consumers,” said Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights, a New York-based marketing insig ..
“The goal is to spread the gospel with the developer community via APIs as each vendor and ecommerce provider will now have the capability to build customized features of this payment app to entice consumers,” he added.
WhatsApp is not the only global company to look at payments in India. While Google launched a UPI-linked payments app Tez, Amazon India introduced a mobile wallet last year.
“With Amazon, Facebook/WhatsApp, Google and others looking to become entrenched in the minds of Indian consumers, this is a shot across the bow at other players like Paytm that a battle for (peer-to-peer) and potentially (customer-to-merchant) payments is on the horizon,” Ives said.