Paytm to launch Messaging Service to rival WhatsApp

Paytm is planning to launch chat messenger within its app. The $8 billion-valued company has over 230 million users (active userbase of 54 million). Using the chat service, India’s top digital wallet aims at expanding its services into person-to-person communication, games and other mobile content.

The planned update, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is expected to go live in a beta feature to be released by the end of August. Paytm has declined to comment.

The Paytm app in addition to the chat app features such as text, image, video and audio messaging, also plans to integrate more sophisticated features. Paytm is expected to include WeChat-like communications channels. With this, brands and Paytm merchants will be able to use their official accounts to connect with users, and mobile games and other content, and market goods directly to users, and receive digital payment for them.

Paytm’s mobile strategy is interesting for various reasons. Its parent company One97 Communication produced mobile content before it started a mobile payments business. Also, Paytm’s largest shareholder, Alibaba, is keen on exploring messaging after it totally missed the opportunity in China. Alibaba has tried to integrate social features into its Alipay service, China’s dominant digital payment app, but has not been successful.

Paytm’s business has got a boost because of demonetization. The company is looking to expand its appeal and engagement with users by moving into messaging and content. (There’s also the potential to make money from social games, as chat app Line showed with $1 billion in revenue last year.) The ultimate goal, TechCrunch understands, is to reach 100 million monthly active Paytm users by end of the current Indian business year — that’s a deadline of April 1 2018.

ET reported that Paytm is looking to create a one-stop place for its users, offering not just payments but also an ecommerce platform, investment options in digital gold as well as booking services. The company also recently launched its payment bank. Flipkart was also looking at a WeChat model to create an ‘everything app’ for services such as ordering food, hailing a cab, planning a vacation, or buying daily essentials. However, Flipkart had failed at its attempt at an in-app chat service called Ping, which the company shut last year barely ten months after launching it.

The move will surely help businesses connect with consumers.