WhatsApp to enable payments service

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

That WhatsApp was working on business features to be launched in the future has been clear for a while now. People just didn’t know when. That has just changed.

Facebook recently advertised the job, Digital Transactions Lead in India, and as one of the job responsibilities, the advert says the person will work cross-functionally with other teams supporting digital transactions on WhatsApp and help scale global support for digital transactions on WhatsApp.

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 160 million active users. The app has generally been more successful in parts of Asia and Africa than in North America and Europe. For the simple reason that SMS was expensive in these markets.

Last year, WhatsApp said they were exploring ways to contribute to “India’s vision for digital commerce.” 

The recent job advert is clear; this is not just about India, but introducing payments on the app globally, eventually.

WhatsApp’s global competition in messaging, WeChat, Messenger and other apps, already have payments enabled as part of the messaging ecosystem. They also allow businesses to use their platform with bots and other innovations enabled by APIs.

WhatsApp however has taken time to introduce the business features. This move hopefully means soon, one of the biggest headaches for businesses in Asia and Africa is solved. How soon? A report by an Indian publication says the payments features may be rolled out within 6 months.

The problem for WhatsApp in terms of rolling out payments fast, is that they have to work with third parties providing the payment gateways in the markets they roll out. Companies like VISA, Mastercard and mobile money providers and aggregators. This is very much unlike other features that don’t depend on third parties.

In Zimbabwe WhatsApp is the primary communication tool, thanks mostly to WhatsApp bundles that are sold by the mobile operators. Ordinarily, users of the app just buy WhastApp bundles, leaving out the rest of the internet. Not because they don’t like the rest of the internet, but data is just too expensive so they can only afford, and they prioritise WhatsApp.



  1. Charles Muzonzini

    This is a game changer. Econet nekuomera ne API yavo better watchout

    1. x

      yeah true …Econet needs to learn a lesson from kuomera kwavo….. whats the of saying this anyways they will stay ignorant eish shame….

    2. x

      yeah true …Econet needs to learn a lesson from kuomera kwavo….. whats the use of saying this anyways they will stay ignorant eish shame….

  2. Sagitarr

    Knowing the stringent Visa/Mastercard/Diners rules, regulations and security plus acceptance requirements and charge-backs, this is not going to be a walk-in-the-park for Whatsapp. It is already an uphill task for mainstream banks as it is, but hey, let’s wait and see!

    Personally, I still see the Zim market specifically restricting itself to using Whatsapp in its raw form – for comms not payments.

  3. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    This seems like a lot of speculation to make from a job advert. Whatsapp has no presence in India in terms of offices/staff, one (planned) hire isn’t going to make payments via Whatsapp a reality overnight. It could be part of their future plans, yes, but the title implies it’s a feature on the immediate cards. Firstly, the job has to get filled (if it doesn’t then what?), then a team needs to be assembled to spearhead the project. Then the project has to kick-off and complete succesfully.

    Don’t get ahead of yourselves by reading into company hires. Tech companies hire (and fire) people all the time. Even companies like Econet have hired talent (some very good people) based on possible business diversity strategies and those plans have fizzled out and individuals re-shuffled or left.

  4. #NdiniNdadaro

    Ummm,not to burst any1z bubble but…Manje muZim muno mekuti kana Visa/Mastercard or even tumaEco/TeleCash chaitwo turikutambura tuchingoita maglitch,hazvishande izvi ba!!!

    We got a long way to go,we don’t even have ATMs that do cash deposits like in neighbouring SA…ngatimbotanga tagadzirisa nyika tisati tada kumhanya tisina kumbokambaira kwacho kkk

    1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      Some of our ATMs are capable of cash deposits, the feature has just not been activated. Take a good look at the ATM slots nexts time you use one. Barclays even had cash deposits as an option at its ATM’s around 2005, I actually used it ONCE personally. The reason why it didn’t persevere is that it’s not our culture to drop off money in a machine. Individuals prefer dealing with another human and getting a stamped deposit slip as proof. With ATM deposits it’s anyone guess when it’ll be credited to the account, and I’m curious what happens when there’s an error, be it counting money or account numbers.

    2. Sagitarr

      Most modern ATMs have BNA (Bank Note Acceptors) and can be configured to accept deposits or even dispense coins. As with any hardware/software configuration, machines can be configured to work to the end-user’s delight, the draw back is usually the (lack of) innovation of the bank, its senior staff, their vision or experience (or lack of these) and the dexterity of their programmers.

  5. josephlowaniKa


  6. Calven Gwidibira

    lol, i wonder why it took them time to realise this !! Wechat started online payment long ago and its so efficient. Wechat allows you to do alot more then just payments, you can by electricity, pay utilies bills , pay for car insurances etc. So to me , this is not a game changer at all, they are simply following Wechat!!!
    And Wechat is by far a better application than Whatsapp!