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WhatsApp names new India head to grow its biggest market

WhatsApp finally has an executive to run its business in its most important global market.The mobile ...

Posted: Nov. 22, 2018 4:13 PM
Updated: Nov. 22, 2018 4:13 PM

WhatsApp finally has an executive to run its business in its most important global market.

The mobile messaging platform, owned by Facebook (FB), has appointed its first India chief, it said in a statement late on Wednesday. Abhijit Bose, co-founder and CEO of Indian digital payments firm Ezetap, will become head of WhatsApp India in early 2019.

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"Bose will build WhatsApp's first full country team outside of California," the company said.

He will be based in Gurgaon, a rapidly growing tech hub on the outskirts of New Delhi that is also home to other big names like Google (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT).

India is WhatsApp biggest market, with more than 200 million people regularly using the service.

But the company has also run into a storm of controversy in India this year, with misinformation on the platform linked to more than a dozen lynchings. WhatsApp has been forced to make several product changes and kickstarted a massive awareness campaign in response to pressure from the Indian government.

WhatsApp wants to get into payments

The appointment of an online payments expert like Bose as India head comes as WhatsApp tries to get its own digital payments service up and running.

It has been testing online payments in India for months, but has run into regulatory hurdles that have prevented it from rolling the service out to all its Indian users.

"WhatsApp ... can be a major partner for financial inclusion and economic growth in India," Bose said in a statement. "It's not only how so many families stay in touch, but increasingly it's how businesses are engaging with their customers."

His appointment is part of a larger leadership overhaul at Facebook in India, where it already has more users than any other country in the world.

Earlier this year, Facebook appointed Ajit Mohan, the CEO of India's biggest streaming platform Hotstar, as its vice president and managing director for India. Mohan will also take up his new role early next year.

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