WhatsApp may enter digital commerce segment this year, says co-founder Brian Acton
Brian Acton, co-founder of popular messaging app WhatsApp, on Friday called on IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss ways in which the company can contribute to India's vision for digital commerce.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has almost become the default messaging application for people in countries like India and Brazil. In India, it competes with the likes of Hike, Snapchat and Viber.
India is also the biggest market for WhatsApp. Of its over one billion users, about 200 million are here.
WhatsApp had said it would focus on rolling out commercial messaging this year for businesses as it looks to tap into enterprises for monetising its platform.
Last year, WhatsApp had stopped charging USD 1 per year subscription fee to go completely free for its users across the world.
While WhatsApp does not intend to introduce any third- party ads for monetisation, it has said the company will test tools that allow users to communicate with businesses and organisations like banks and airlines through its platform.
WhatsApp has just rolled out a new update, introducing SnapChat-like features to turn its platform into a sort of social media app.
Similar to Facebook, the app now features 'Status', which appears as a separate tab within the app. This allows users to share GIF, videos and photos with their friends for 24 hours after which the content vanishes.
Highlighting the country's importance, Acton said WhatsApp hopes to contribute more to "India's vision for digital commerce in future".
"India is a very important country to us, and we're proud to have 200 million people who use WhatsApp to connect with their friends, family and communities. We build every WhatsApp feature to be simple, reliable, and secure, and this vision is in line with what Digital India promises to achieve," he added.
Acton said the company will continue to invest to help more people across India connect to its platform.
"Brian Acton, the co-founder of @WhatsApp and a fine mind in the field of information technology met me today," the Minister tweeted along with a photograph of the two after his meeting.
"I also appreciated the good role of platforms like @facebook, @WhatsApp are playing in the field of digital empowerment," Prasad added.
Earlier this week, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella was also in town to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prasad to discuss the company's digital inclusion programme that leverages technology for improving rural healthcare and education.
Acton, who is on a one-day trip to India, is slated to address students at IIT-Delhi, along with WhatsApp Head of Business, Neeraj Arora, later this evening.