New Delhi– After picking 5 Indian startups who would receive nearly Rs 35 lakh ($50,000) each to develop country-first products, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is now set to further empower the 50-million plus small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the country.

Will Cathcart, who became the new head of WhatsApp after Vice President Chris Daniels quit in March, would announce some key features for the SMBs on Thursday.

“WhatsApp helps connect friends and families but it has fast become a driver of economic growth in India.

“Join Will Cathcart, Global Head of WhatsApp for an engaging event, ‘Gateway to a Billion Opportunities’, on how technology enables digital inclusion, in the presence of Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog,” the company said in an invite.

According to sources, the announcement would enable Indian SMBs further go digital.

The messaging app has been working closely on its business platform. Launched in January 2018, the WhatsApp Business app was developed to improve SMBs’ communications with the customers.

In India, 84 per cent of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers, and 80 per cent of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them grow their business.

Cathcart would also visit Mumbai to interact with the SMBs, discussing how to mentor them while sharing his own journey as a developer to leading WhatsApp.

Facebook-owned platform is also planning to soon launch its digital payments service which would also enable MSMEs in the country.

The country’s digital payments industry is estimated to hit $1 trillion by 2023.

According to a report by Omidyar Network and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), nearly half of MSME owners with annual business revenue between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 75 crore would use WhatsApp Payments once it is fully rolled out.

WhatsApp Payments was made available for 1 million Indian users in Beta last year and is now in the final stages of a complete roll-out. (IANS)