New Delhi: Social media platforms to the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp are not mere networking platforms for sellers in India and are now serving as digital marketplaces with 79% merchants tapping the power of social commerce to access a large consumer base, according to a study by Paypal.

Among all Asian markets, excluding China, India has emerged at the top in usage of YouTube (64%), Twitter (61%), Google+ (50%), Skype (53%) and LinkedIn (33%) for the sale of goods and services, stated the report titled ‘Beyond Networking: Social Commerce as a Driver of Digital Payments’.

According to the report, over 96% merchants attribute growth of business to low overhead costs of social commerce. The use of social networks as a channel has also improved the financial condition of these sellers, it added. The most used social networks for online commerce are Facebook (89%), WhatsApp (43%) and Instagram(41%).

“Merchants are seeing social media as viable business platforms and are open to exploring social networking sites to grow business and tap consumers," said Narsi Subramanian, director of growth at Paypal India.

While social commerce offers products and services across categories like groceries, insurance, fashion and electronics, the most attractive products online are in the cosmetics and beauty segment.

About 52% the total consumer demand on social networks is commanded by cosmetics, followed by online supermarket and groceries (44%), the report added.

With internet penetration rates growing to over 68%, growth of social commerce is also fuelling the adoption of digital payments, the Paypal report highlighted. It also pointed out the emergence of social commerce as a mainstream retail channel on the back of easy online payments and convenience offering to customers.

“With digitization, India is rapidly transitioning towards a digital, mobile-first economy. The very nature of social commerce encourages greater digital payment adoption," Subramanian added.

Over 15% of merchants use new methods of digital payment to facilitate commerce transactions, the report said. In addition, 70% of merchants worldwide use Paypal to sell across the globe.

In India, where one in three consumers buys or sells online, digital payments integrated with social networks serve as a secure and speedy option, the report said.