Google added a chat function to its India-only mobile wallet service Tez, placing the tech giant in direct competition with WhatsApp, Paytm and an increasing number of companies offering messaging and payment services in the country.
The Economic Times (ET) reported some users in the country have already received the chat upgrade to Tez, which signed up an estimated 13.5 million active users since its 2017 launch.
Google’s addition of messaging to its app echoes a move made by leading Indian mobile payments provider Paytm, which released a chat feature in November 2017.
Paytm’s launch came amid reports a number of messaging companies were preparing to release cash transfer abilities in existing chat apps, including WhatsApp – which started beta tests of its payment service during February.
Taking a commanding market position in India with a converged payment and messaging service will be a huge challenge, even for a company of Google’s scale.
By the end of 2017, Paytm had a customer base of 280 million and significant backers including Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.
In addition to adding chat services, Paytm also widened the scope of its service within the last year to include a payments bank savings service and is preparing an investment app for launch later this year.
WhatsApp’s messaging app is estimated to have 200 million active users in India, who will receive the payment service as an upgrade to the existing app later this year.