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Viber takes a page from WhatsApp with new payments push

The news: Viber, a messaging app owned by Japanese etailer Rakuten, launched digital wallets in Germany and Greece, and plans to eventually bring the offering to more European countries, per TechCrunch.

The service, Payments on Viber, lets users link their bank accounts or Mastercard and Visa cards to it so they can make free peer-to-peer (P2P) payments. It’ll also let users make bill payments and pay businesses, though these services may carry fees.

Why it’s worth watching: Viber has approximately 250 million monthly active users and is present in 180 countries, though Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are its largest markets. The messaging app features a tailored news feed and end-to-end encryption to protect user privacy.

Viber already offers some payment services like chatbot payments and money transfers in select countries. But the company is taking a more targeted approach with its new payments service by tapping two key markets.

  • In Greece, Viber boasts 91% smartphone penetration, making payments a viable growth opportunity.
  • And while Germany only has 3 million Viber users, the country shares a strong payments corridor with Greece, newly minted CEO Ofir Eyal told TechCrunch.

The challenge: Payments within messaging apps isn’t a new concept—players like WeChat and Meta-owned WhatsApp are prime examples of messaging providers that have pushed into the payments space.

Breaking into the payments space could be a challenge for Viber, which has a much smaller base of users than WeChat and WhatsApp. Viber will need to prove that it offers more value and increased customization than either of those providers. If it’s successful, Viber could win more engaged customers and a stronger share of P2P payment users, which Insider Intelligence forecasts will hit 15 million in Germany this year.