Leading Indian mobile wallet provider Paytm launched an anticipated chat feature, which sees the company go head to head with a raft of messaging companies moving into the payment space.

Paytm Inbox was added to its existing payment app, providing general chat features, the ability to send and receive money through conversation windows, and enhanced messaging features including file transfer and media sharing.

The company also added marketing capabilities to allow companies to communicate with its user base through the feature.

Announcing the move in a blog, the company said: “Millions use Paytm for a wide variety of payment use cases. We realised that besides payments, our users would also like to communicate with each other.”

Paytm’s customer base stands at around 250 million and the company can access significant resources if it chooses to expand full-blooded into the messaging space: it is backed by Alibaba and affiliate Ant Financial, in addition to SoftBank through investments in parent company One97.

Turf war
Rumours emerged in August the wallet provider was set to expand into messaging, shortly after news broke that popular messaging companies Hike and WhatsApp were moving into the instant payments space – a sector core to Paytm.

Hike – which has 100 million subscribers in India – added money transfer to its chat app in June. After months of speculation, WhatsApp is still said to be preparing a similar service. Latest estimates from The Indian Express suggest WhatsApp will offer payments to its 200 million customers in India during December.

India’s fast growing payment space was viewed as a major target for a range of companies this year, including Google which launching its Tez service in September.

Data released by analyst company Global Data last week estimated INR800 billion ($12.3 billion) would be processed by mobile payment providers in the country during 2017.