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WhatsApp may hire former Paytm executive to head payments business in India

BusinessToday.In     September 11, 2018

As global tech giants slug it out to take a bigger piece of India's booming digital payments pie, Facebook-owned messaging service is reportedly scouting for talent to lead its payments business team. According to a report in The Econnomic Times, WhatsApp may rope in former Paytm vice-president Amit Lakhotia to head its payments entity in India.

To finalise its country head, multiple WhatsApp executives, including its chief executive officer Chris Daniels, have met and interviewed the candidates during recent visits to India, the report said, adding that former India head of Amazon's financial services, Sriraman Jagannathan, was also in the fray. However, Jagannathan chose in favour of doing something else, it said.

The report added that Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp business head and one of its early employees, was recently in India to finalise hiring, his last major assignment before he quits the company to start his fund in the US.

WhatsApp currently has one corporate entity in India, by the name of WhatsApp Application Services Limited. It is registered in Hyderabad with Rakesh Rewari and Anne Hoge Milken as directors.

India was one of the first markets to get the much-talked about payments service by WhatsApp. As part of its beta launch in February this year, the company started its peer-to-peer (P2P) payments on the UPI platform in partnership with ICICI Bank.

The biggest advantage WhatsApp has over other apps is its huge user base - it doesn't need to burn cash to acquire customers and that's a massive advantage. WhatsApp considers India as its largest market, with a monthly active user base of over 200 million, as of February 2018.

India's digital payments market is expected to grow from less than $200 billion currently to $1 trillion over the next five years. However, government's push for data localisation norms has put the brakes on early roll out of these services.

Tech giant Google has already sought two more months from the Indian government to adhere with Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) guidelines for data localisation for digital payment services.

In April this year, RBI had directed payment system operators to store all data, including full end-to-end transaction details and information collected within India to ensure security of the users' information. The service providers were given six months till October 15 to comply.

Last month, the Supreme Court issued a notice to WhatsApp, asking why it has not appointed a grievance officer in India yet.

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