Beating rival WhatsApp to the punch, Indian messaging service Hike has followed in the footsteps of its Chinese backer Tencent by adding a mobile wallet to its app, enabling tens of millions of users to send and receive money instantly.
In an Indian first, the latest Hike upgrade introduces a wallet that takes advantage of a partnership with Yes Bank and the government-backed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for free instant bank-to-bank transfers between friends - even if the recipient is not on Hike.
For those who don't use bank accounts, P2P payments can still be made through the wallet, which also lets people top up their phones and pay postpaid bills.
Mimicking the hugely popular 'Red Packets' feature offered by its backer Tencent's WeChat service, a Hike 'Blue Packets' option is geared towards "making money a new form of social expression" - letting users choose between 10 different virtual envelopes with space for personal messages which can be stuffed with digital money and sent to friends.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO, Hike Messenger, says: "With Blue Packets, we’re going to change the way people send and receive money. We believe we can make that experience fun and also a new form of messaging.
"Can money be the new Sticker? We believe so. That’s the idea. Our users celebrate so many special moments in their lives. It could be from a simple Thank You or Congratulations to a Happy Birthday. We hope with Blue Packets we can give our users a new avenue to express themselves."
Hike, which claims more than 100 million registered users, has stolen a march on Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which is widely expected to roll out a UPI-based P2P payments service in India in the next few months.