99, a Brazilian ridesharing service, will partner with Facebook-owned WhatsApp in order to take orders on the chat platform, letting users summon cars without having to use more than just the WhatsApp application, according to Reuters.
99 is owned by China-based Didi Chuxing Technology, Reuters reported.
The partnership, which has already launched in four cities in Sao Paulo state, will aim to target lower-income individuals who might not have the same capacity on their mobile phones to download apps, alongside people living in rural areas with weaker mobile signals, Reuters reported.
Livia Pozzi, operations manager for 99, said the partnership will “allow access to the service for a larger universe of people who will no longer need to download our app to order their rides,” according to Reuters.
The rides ordered over WhatsApp will have to be paid in cash initially, although the app plans to allow for an instant payment system to be used down the road, Reuters reported.
This is Didi’s first partnership of this kind, with the team-up poised to compete with U.S.-based Uber, which also has a strong following in Brazil, according to Reuters. However, as of late 2019, Uber was losing ground in the area in favor of Didi. Both companies are backed by SoftBank.
Didi claims around 30 percent of the market in the area — its biggest outside China. In a statement, Didi said the market has potential because of the comparatively low usage of delivery and rideshare apps in the area.
While the WhatsApp partnership is currently only in a few cities, Reuters reported that it’s slated to expand to the rest of Brazil by the end of the year.
WhatsApp has 120 million users in Brazil, making it the app’s second largest market after India, according to Reuters. Brazil boasts a population of around 210 million. Meanwhile, 99 has 20 million customers registered and over 750,000 active drivers in the country.