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Corporate Crossings | WhatsApp Pay India head Manesh Mahatme quits, likely to join Amazon

Mahatme's resignation comes at a time when WhatsApp’s mobile payments business has failed to take off in a significant fashion in India

September 22, 2022 / 05:22 PM IST

Manesh Mahatme, the head of WhatsApp's payment business in India, has quit the company after a nearly 18 month stint, according to a person familiar of the matter.

Mahatme is returning to his former employer Amazon, the person told Moneycontrol. Mahatme left WhatsApp Pay in September 2022, according to his LinkedIn profile. He joined the company in April 2021.

Prior to joining WhatsApp, Mahatme was a director and board member of Amazon Pay India for nearly seven years, where he led a team of senior product, engineering, business development, and sales leaders in developing the company's payment experience both on and off Amazon.

"Manesh has played an important role in expanding the access to 'payments on WhatsApp' in India, and we wish him every success for his future endeavours. Payments on WhatsApp is a priority for Meta and we will continue to innovate and drive momentum as part of our broader efforts to bring the 'next 500 million Indians' onto the digital payments' ecosystem" a Meta spokesperson said in a statement to Moneycontrol. We have also reached out to Amazon on this development.

Despite dominating the messaging space in India, Mahatme's resignation comes at a time when WhatsApp's mobile payments business has failed to take off in a significant way. With over 500 million users, India is the largest market for the Meta-owned app.

However, since its inception in the country, the UPI-based payment service has been hampered by restrictions on its user base.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which operates the country's retail payment and settlement systems, had authorised WhatsApp to begin payment services in November 2020 with a cap of 20 million users. This was nearly two years after the service's initial pilot.

WhatsApp received approval from the NPCI in April 2022 to expand the service to 100 million users.

Over the past year, the messaging app has doubled down on its payment plans by introducing new features and marketing initiatives to increase service awareness and discoverability.

This includes the addition of a rupee icon in the app's chat composer and the ability for users to scan any UPI QR code via the camera icon on the app's home screen.

In recent months, the Meta-owned messaging app has tried to increase its user base by offering cashbacks to consumers, but this hasn't helped much in moving the needle. For instance, while WhatsApp transactions increased six-fold in July due to cashbacks, they only accounted for 0.39 percent of total transactions for the month.

After the cashback frenzy died down, transaction volumes fell again. WhatsApp recorded only 6.72 million transactions in August this year, totaling Rs 567.17 crore. This represents only 0.1% of the total UPI market.

In comparison, rival PhonePe accounts for 47.8% of the market share in terms of volumes for the month of August, while Google Pay and Paytm contribute 33.6% and 13.2% share respectively.

Priyanka Iyer
Priyanka Iyer
Vikas SN
Vikas SN
first published: Sep 22, 2022 03:00 pm