Payments apps are fast realizing that the holy grail to success in their industry might be a whole different industry by itself — chat.
After Paytm, Google Tez has also introduced a chat option within its app. Tez will now have a dedicated chat button that will sit next to the ”Pay” and “Request” buttons on its app, and users will be able to send messages to other users. Users will also be able to block any of their contacts, and also disable a particular chat thread.
The feature has been rolled out to a limited number of devices (we weren’t able to find someone who had it enabled), but Google confirmed the development to Gadgets 360. “We’ve added a feature to Tez that allows you to send simple messages back and forth to your contacts about the payments you make,” a Google spokesperson said. Two users will be able to use the chat only if both of them have had the feature rolled out on their apps.
It’s not hard to see where the inspiration for this chat feature has come from — WhatsApp recently launched its own UPI payments product, and it was apparent to many people that this was likely going to be the future of payments going forward. WhatsApp had reimagined a payment as an attachment that you could send on chat, and millions of Indians, who’re already used to sending photos and videos on WhatsApp, would presumably find it easy to graduate to sending money through its app.
Paytm, to its credit, had seen the signs early. As rumours of WhatsApp’s payments launch had become stronger last year, it had launched Paytm Inbox, a feature which integrated chat into its own app. Paytm Inbox had got off to a fast start, with the company claiming that 15 million messages had been sent through its platform within the first 3 days of its launch. Paytm Inbox, though, hasn’t quite managed to become mainstream just yet. It now remains to be seen how Google Tez will fare — Google has no shortage of messaging apps, with the company running, in parallel, Google Hangouts, Google Allo and Google Duo. With Tez joining the fray, Google will present its users with yet another chat option.
But it might be hard to unseat WhatsApp. Users flow downstream from high-frequency use cases to low frequency use-cases — people already open WhatsApp several times a day to check messages from friends and family; it’s much easier to get them to also complete payments on their app. What Paytm and Google Tez are attempting is the opposite — they already have payments in place, and are now trying to get users to use the high-frequency chats. It isn’t the most natural way for use-cases to flow, but given how WhatsApp has already aggressively launched its own payments option, other payments players have no option but to try to compete.