Today’s Cache | Turbo-charging WhatsApp

Today’s Cache is a column on the happenings in the world of tech and corporations.

Updated - May 02, 2022 04:50 pm IST

Published - April 28, 2022 05:25 pm IST

Last Monday, in my column, I shared what Facebook was doing with a hard-to-monetizable WhatsApp. The social network wants to leverage the conversations happening over its messaging platforms as it is an important store house of digital crumbs like user data, their behaviours, likes and dislikes. These crumbs are important for Facebook to sell space and analytics data to advertisers and brands.

The messaging platform saw a 40% increase in usage; in the early phase of the pandemic usage increased 27%, in mid-phase 41%, and countries in the late phase of the pandemic saw an increase of 51% And .people in some markets, particularly India and Latin America, use messaging apps for more than texting and calling each other. They make purchases and connect with brands via these digital channels.

A 2020 survey by consulting firm Kantar on changing media habits during the pandemic highlights that WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram experienced over 40% increase in user growth in the 18-34 age group.

Facebook is looking to deepening this engagement. One of the ways is enabling people to pay and buy via the app. But, WhatsApp has a lot of area to cover as Google Pay leads peer-to-peer payments in the country.

So, Facebook is planning to use a leaf out of credit card companies’ play book: a cashback scheme. In India, WhatsApp may roll out cashback rewards to lure users to its peer-to-peer payments service, according to a report by Reuters citing people with the knowledge of the matter. The new strategy is designed to beat competition with Google.

Separately, the service may also test doling out cashback incentives for users who pay highway tolls and utility and other bills straight from the app, the report said.

If these tests turn out positive for the messaging platform, its ability to corner a larger share of the payments market in India would be easy. That’s because it does not need to reach new users like how credit card companies do. It just has to add a button and send a few notification or status update every day to its millions of users.

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