IM services have started to provide a platform for digital payments.

Messenger (Facebook) links VISA and MasterCard debit cards linked to US banks and Paypal accounts into it, and allows users to pay each other through Messenger (but essentially from one bank a/c to another).

Viber does something similar, allowing users to pay from their bank accounts to Western Union agents or to Western Union qualified banks.

WhatsApp has been beta testing it17;s payment system for a few months now in India, already having partnered with banks (State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank). It17;s set to launch in the first quarter of 018.

WeChat, similar to Messenger, but from a much earlier , allows peer to peer payment, given that the sender and receiver have linked their debit/credit cards or bank accounts to WeChat. Recently, they are allowing cards from Japan, and Greater China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau etc.)

Hike is another example, based in India.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but all these IM based payments are always to banks, and no Instant Messaging service has any wallet system or cash management system of its own. So what is the role of IM here? Are they a payment gateway? And what are the positive and negative impacts of using IM as a payment gateway? End-impact on users, Governments, and business case for banks, IM platforms etc.?

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