Paytm is set to challenge WhatsApp and Hike with the launch of chat services, as the latter companies continue to eye its core business of mobile payments.

Citing sources close to Paytm, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported the India-based mobile payment company could move into messaging within weeks.

The service is thought to enable free exchange of text, video and images and could be used by brands to engage with customers and advise on purchases – which can then be processed through the app.

News of Paytm’s plan comes as WhatsApp is reportedly planning to add person-to-person (P2P) cash transfer to its chat app – putting it in direct competition with Paytm in one of its core lines of business.

India-based Hike – which counts 100 million users and is one of the world’s largest messaging apps by downloads – launched its own P2P payments service in June.

Currently over 200 million people use Paytm’s payments app, while WhatsApp is estimated to have a similar number of users in the country.

Expansion plans
Paytm’s foray into messaging fits with its recent strategy of extending the scope of its services.

In July the company invested an undisclosed sum in advertising company MobiQuest, while revealing it planned to add its loyalty-focused technology to its core offering.

The company in May also became the second in India to offer mobile Payment Bank services, following a similar launch by Bharti Airtel in January.