As full-scale WhatsApp payments are waiting to see daylight in India due to its ‘non-compliance’ with data localisation norms, Facebook is now looking for a controversial workaround. In November 2019, the RBI reportedly told Supreme Court about the non-compliance and directed the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to not allow Whatsapp to launch full-scale payment business on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
According to media reports, Facebook has devised a plan to start conversational commerce on WhatsApp, targeting around 400 million active user base. In conversational commerce, people and businesses connect through chat with an intention to purchase goods or services. In India, Facebook is planning to push for financial inclusion and rural services but healthcare services will be excluded from it.
Since the messenger is battling for its image as a secure platform after Pegasus (Israeli spyware) controversy, Facebook’s new plan to exploit the huge e-commerce market through conversational commerce can spark fresh debate. Facebook has already published a whitepaper on conversational commerce with the help of Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
As live chats for services have failed to receive encouraging feedback, Facebook, through its extensive resource at its disposal, can provide a new lease of life to it using conversational commerce. BCG has noted the pain points which ranges from delayed replies from the seller, delayed response post payments, hard to understand the product, and limited ways to verify the seller among others.
According to the study, shoppers in Southeast Asia have shown a high level of comfort with online transactions, making the region well-suited for the growth of conversational commerce. The users value immediacy and promptness while interacting with online sellers and are more likely to use messaging platforms when learning about new products.
With online payment system already crowded with PayTM, Google Pay, PhonePe, and Amazon Pay, Facebook’s plan to enter the commerce side of the business can be a game-changer in e-commerce.