Hike beats WhatsApp to launching messenger app payments in India
Thursday, June 22, 2017
India-focused mobile messaging service Hike landed funding from Tencent last year, and today it took a major step to emulating the Chinese firm’s WeChat app with the introduction of mobile payments.
The launch of Hike Wallet not only shows an ambition to build a messaging platform, it also means Hike has beaten WhatsApp, the chat app that dominates India, to the punch. Facebook-owned WhatsApp is typically coy about future updates and services, but co-founder Brian Acton has spoken publicly of plans to launch digital payments in India, which is its largest market with over 200 million active users. Hike, meanwhile, was most recently valued at $1.4 billion, but it is still not disclosing active user numbers other than to say that over 100 million people are registered users.
Hike, which is introducing version 5.0 today, is starting out with peer-to-peer and bank-to-bank payment options, the former being an in-app wallet that is not dependent on a bank account and the latter a service powered by India’s government-backed UPI payment system. Beyond sending cash to each other, Hike has also introduce a ‘blue packet’ feature that lets users gift digital envelopes of cash for special occasions, such as birthdays.