Messaging application WhatsApp, which is owned by social media giant Facebook, on Wednesday appointed Abhijit Bose as the head of its operations in India. Bose is the co-founder and chief executive officer of electronic payments firm Ezetap, which was established in 2011.

Bose, who will join the company in 2019, has been tasked with building the messaging platform’s first full country team outside its base in California, United States. The team will work out of Gurugram in Haryana, and will prioritise helping businesses connect with their customers.

Earlier in the year, the company had rolled out the WhatsApp Business app that allows businesses to speak directly with users. “Today, there are over one million users of these WhatsApp business products in India,” the company said in a statement.

Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s chief operating officer, said the company was deeply committed to India. “We are excited to keep building products that help people connect and support India’s fast-growing digital economy,’ Idema added. “As a successful entrepreneur himself, Abhijit [Bose] knows what it takes to build meaningful partnerships that can serve businesses across India.”

Bose, an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and Cornell University, said the company could play an important role in India’s economic growth. “WhatsApp is special and can be a major partner for financial inclusion and economic growth in India,” he added. “It is not only how so many families stay in touch, but increasingly it is how businesses are engaging with their customers. WhatsApp can positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians, allowing them to actively engage and benefit from the new digital economy.”

The appointment comes at a time the company is in involved in talks with the central government about tackling disinformation. In the last few months, the government has criticised WhatsApp for failing to curb the circulation of fake news and rumours – which are said to have triggered a spate of mob lynchings that claimed several lives across the country – on its messaging platform.

In October, the Centre said it had asked the company to share with law-enforcement agencies the locations and identities of those misusing the service to spread fake news and trigger violence.