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New Delhi: Paytm on Thursday launched a “chat" feature on its payments app that allows users to send and receive payments natively, in a major move towards introducing social payments in India.

The latest update to the app will include ‘Paytm Inbox,’ a chat messenger-like interface. It will allow users to send, receive and even send a request for funds (similar to the BHIM app) from within messenger, besides usual functionalities like texting, media exchange and location sharing.

Paytm said the feature will roll out to Android users on Thursday and to iOS users subsequently.

While it may not be the first to introduce payments over chat, Hike did it in June, Paytm with its 200 million user base has the capacity to make it mainstream.

Market observers believe social payments are the next step in digital payments and giving the functionality of chat and mobile payments on one platform will boost the latter.

With the launch of Inbox, Paytm seems to have taken a “leaf" out of the playbook of WeChat—China’s largest digital payments platform that pioneered social payments.

Paytm Inbox, which will also send notifications for offers and order status, may also find application with merchants, a category where Paytm is believed to be far ahead of its rival app-based payment platforms.

“We have realized that besides making payments, our users and merchants also like to communicate with each other. There is a need of social messaging, commerce and payments seamlessly blending into one another. One step for us towards meeting this consumer need is “Paytm Inbox" where you can chat with friends/merchants and send/receive money effortlessly and securely. This will help us drive greater engagement on our platform and build a stronger bond with our customers," said Deepak Abbot, a senior vice president at Paytm.

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