Manesh Mahatme, the head of WhatsApp’s India payment business has quit after about 18 months with the Meta Platforms-owned company and is reportedly headed to Amazon where he previously worked. Last year, Mahatme joined WhatsApp from Amazon where he spent close to seven years as Director and Board member of Amazon Pay India and led product, engineering, and growth teams.
Mahatme’s exit comes at a crucial time for Whatsapp, which is scaling up its payments service in India and competing with established players such as Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm.
A Meta spokesperson confirmed that Mahatme has quit the firm and a query to Amazon remained unanswered till the time of going to press.
“Manesh (Mahatme) has played an important role in expanding the access to ‘payments on WhatsApp’ in India, and we wish him every success in his future endeavours,” said the Meta spokesperson. “Payments on WhatsApp is a priority for Meta and we will continue to innovate and drive momentum as part of our broader efforts to bring the ‘next 500 million Indians’ onto the digital payments ecosystem.”
WhatsApp, along with Reliance’s Jio Platforms also recently rolled out of online shopping experience. It gave a shot in the arm of these firms and would help them take on other e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart. The partnership will give JioMart access to over 487 million WhatsApp users in India. In a global first, JioMart on WhatsApp will enable users in India, including those who have never shopped online before, to seamlessly browse through JioMart’s entire grocery catalogue. They can add items to the cart, and make the payment without leaving WhatsApp chat.
Mahatme also played a role in helping WhatsApp to win regulatory approval to more than double the number of users of its payments service in India to 100 million. In April this year, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) allowed Meta-owned WhatsApp to add sixty million users to its payments service, taking the total number of consumers it can offer the unified payment interface or UPI-based feature to 100 million.
The NPCI had granted WhatsApp approval in November 2020 to go live on UPI in the multi-bank model in a graded manner, allowing 20 million users to start off with. The number was later increased to 40 million last year. After the cap was extended to 40 million users, Manesh Mahatme, director-payments for WhatsApp India, had said his company would work with the NPCI to expand its users.
After Mahatme’s appointment last year, Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp in India, had said that Mahatme has been one of the key innovators driving the growth of digital payments in India over the last decade, and his experience will help the firm maximize the impact and scale of payments on WhatsApp.
Mahatme brings with him 17 years of experience in digital financial services and payments across Citibank, Airtel Money and Amazon. He was also instrumental in building and scaling the payment experience and platform for Amazon India’s marketplace business. He graduated from BITS, Pilani (Electronics Engineering) and from SP Jain, Mumbai (Management).