WhatsApp’s new communication tools will aid its payment ambitions

via Business Insider

The Facebook-owned messaging service is enabling consumers to share businesses’ catalogs and products through links and initiate virtual chats via QR codes. The over 50 million firms that use the WhatsApp Business app can access these features and start offering them to consumers.

Being able to share products and catalogs via links could make it easier for users to discuss a product with others, and the option to start a virtual chat by scanning a QR code on a product, receipt, or storefront should help consumers easily communicate with businesses.

These new features could be used to bolster WhatsApp’s payments business by adding more payment options and strengthening its relationships with merchants.

  • The QR codes and product links could eventually be adapted to handle payments, making it easier for consumers to make payments via WhatsApp. WhatsApp has been rolling out retail and peer-to-peer payments in Brazil and India, so it could eventually choose to add payment functionalities to its QR codes and shareable links to enhance flexibility for both merchants and consumers. QR codes could allow consumers to make a payment by simply scanning a code, while the links could give them a straightforward path to making a purchase on WhatsApp’s platform. These contactless payment options could be particularly useful during the coronavirus pandemic since they limit consumers’ risk of contracting the virus, helping WhatsApp’s payment features attract users.
  • And adding QR codes and shareable links now builds WhatsApp’s relationship with merchants, potentially boosting their interest in accepting payments through the platform. By providing QR codes for virtual chats and links for product sharing now, WhatsApp can push more merchants to engage with customers through the messaging platform. This could highlight WhatsApp’s ability to drive sales and make merchants more likely to take advantage of WhatsApp’s payment capabilities as they roll out.

WhatsApp Business is most popular in India and Brazil so the new features should help it thrive in those markets, but WhatsApp is still dealing with regulatory roadblocks in both countries. The WhatsApp Business app has 15 million monthly active users (MAU) in India and 5 million MAU in Brazil — more than in any other markets, TechCrunch reports.

This could drive adoption of its new features in the two markets where WhatsApp is introducing payment services, positioning it for greater payment adoption from both consumers and merchants. But authorities in both countries are slowing the rollout of WhatsApp’s payment features, so it remains to be seen if the messaging platform will be able to reap the potential rewards of its new connection tools.