Zuck uses India visit to increase Meta’s transactional traction

Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg has used a trip to India to announce more transactional features for his social networks.

The boss of Facebook, The ‘Gram, WhatsApp and Threads visited Mumbai for an event dubbed “Conversations” at which WhatsApp announced a feature called “Flows” that apparently allows businesses to “offer more experiences like quickly choosing your train seat, ordering a meal or booking an appointment – all without leaving your chat.” Flows will “provide rich menus and customizable forms that support different needs.”

Indian WhatsApp users, meanwhile, will get facilities that ease payments in the chatty app by linking it to India’s Universal Payment Interface. “We’re excited to be working with partners Razorpay and PayU to make paying for something as simple as sending a message,” boasts WhatsApp’s spiel.

WhatsApp will also soon offer verified accounts for business users. Paying up will see users given “the ability to create a custom WhatsApp page that is easily discoverable via a web search, and multi-device with chat assignment support so multiple employees can respond to customers.”

That multi-employee access matters to orgs that accept payments in WhatsApp, and in the developing world, where WhatsApp is a more prominent digital interface than email for many organizations.

That Zuck announced this in Mumbai was clearly no accident.

Before WhatsApp verified accounts arrive, Meta will deliver them for Facebook and Instagram.

Meta already introduced paid verified accounts in February 2023, not long after Elon Musk did likewise after acquiring Twitter.

Before Musk took over, verified accounts on Twitter were handed out to notable entities as the micro-blogging service felt all users could benefit from a signifier of an account’s authenticity. Musk kept the verified accounts but changed their purpose: to signify paying users. In what can now be recognized as typical Musky management, or lack thereof, verified accounts weren’t – anyone who paid up could claim a name. Chaos ensued.

Meta jumped on the paid verification bandwagon with an offer to increase the prominence of Facebook and Instagram users for $11.99 a month on the web, or $14.99 a month on iOS. Meta aimed the verified accounts at “creators” – the Zuckerbergian term for people who make money on Facebook or The ‘Gram. Thankfully, Meta made verification contingent on provision of a government-issued ID.

Meta has since announced it will bring verification to business accounts “in the coming weeks in select test countries.”

The service – which Meta describes as a “subscription” – will cost $21.99/month per Facebook page or Instagram account, or $34.99/month for both. Meta’s not said where it will test the subs, nor when they’ll go global.

Nor has it explained how it will avoid regulatory interest in the offering, given that one of the issues in the ongoing DoJ vs Google trial is how big tech platforms use their broad product portfolios to forestall competition. ®


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