By Jon Russel for TechCrunch
Messaging and payments continue to converge in India after Google added chat features to its Tez payment app in India.
The move follows the introduction of peer-to-peer payments inside WhatsApp in India, its largest country worldwide with over 200 million users, last month and it now allows users of Tez to communicate directly with contacts via the app. Google told Gadgets 365 that the feature is rolling out among users so not all of them may have it yet.
Google launched Tez last year and it claims to have more than 15 million registered users. The app started out as a plain peer-to-peer transfer service, but it recently added the (useful) capability of paying bills such as gas and water and TV/internet services.
Paytm, India’s leading mobile wallet service, has also bridged the messaging-payment gap, too. It launched messaging capabilities last year, and it also has plans to introduce other services including games.
Google has long tried to succeed in the messaging space with a bunch of different services, the most notable being Hangouts, launched for consumers, but none ever reached anything like the critical mass of WhatsApp.
Indeed, Google itself reportedly tried to buy WhatsApp but it was ultimately unsuccessful as Facebook picked the company up via a $19 billion acquisition. That deal as questioned by plenty, particularly in the U.S. where WhatsApp wasn’t hugely popular at the time, but the service has grown to over one billion daily users giving Facebook a huge service that operates independently of its core social network. That said, the two services are increasingly linking hands, with recent initiatives including click-to-call WhatsApp buttons on Facebook ads.