Apps Battle for Payments Advantage in India

As India continues to encourage the growth of digital payments, the country remains a hot market for those looking to capitalize on the opportunity there.

Several apps are bringing their unique approach to payments in the region, hoping their strategy is the one that will attract the most consumers. For many, it seems, the goal is to give consumers reasons – beyond payments – to interact with the app.

A possible advantage on that front goes to Facebook’s WhatsApp, which is already a significant part of the lives of many Indian consumers. The messaging app boasts more than 200 million users a month in India.

After kicking off a beta period in February, WhatsApp recently announced that nearly 1 million people are participating in the test of its payments service, according to the Business Standard.

According to Quartz, the app uses India’s unified payments interface (UPI) to allow users to connect directly to their bank accounts. This potentially makes it easier for users to transact, versus loading funds into a digital wallet.

The app is using its beta period to fix issues and round out features, with no official launch date yet announced, the Quartz article said.

Approaching the problem from a different angle, payments provider PhonePe is teaming up with Indian ride-hailing app Ola, according to an article in the Economic Times.

The partnership will allow users to book rides – and pay for them – directly from the PhonePe app, adding utility to its payments app.

“This strategy fits into its overall design to develop the app-in-app model where PhonePe is partnering with multiple players to allow customers [to] access major use cases for their payment applications,” the article said.

PhonePe already offers a bus ticketing service and aims to have about 30 merchant applications on its platform, the company told the publication.

All of these services compete with leading Indian PF Paytm. Paytm has been working to bring millions of small merchants into its ecosystem and supports a variety of payment methods – including QR codes – through its mobile wallet.

For its part, Paytm is also looking to expand the ways it can keep users coming back. It recently announced new features – including live TV, news, videos and games – for its own in-app messaging service.

As companies all vie for their share within this rapidly developing region, the competition may center around which can offer users the best reasons to open their app.