WhatsApp has finally expanded the payments feature to more users in India, the world’s second largest internet market; though it had begun testing its payments service in India as early as 2018. Payments are to be rolled out in ten Indian regional languages in the latest stable version of WhatsApp application on Android and iOS. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has granted approval to WhatsApp to roll out UPI-powered payments in the country.
NPCI said WhatsApp can expand payments to its users in a “graded manner”. Initially, it can only roll out the payments service to 20 million users and has to work with multiple banking partners. Whatsapp is working with five leading banks in India: ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, the State Bank of India, and Jio Payments Bank.
WhatsApp’s payments that were initiated in 2018 quickly ended up in a two-and-a-half-year regulatory maze as various bodies expressed concerns over users’ payments data and whether Whatsapp assumed too much power and advantages over other payments apps. While WhatsApp has been cleared of those concerns, it is believed that it will see a much faster adoption than its rivals as all its potential users already use it for chatting with friends.
NPCI’s announcement mentioned that it would enforce a cap on third-party apps to ensure that no particular app processes more than 30% of all UPI transactions in a month. This might help WhatsApp in some way eventually — though it might bite later.
If WhatsApp gains success with payments, it could open more avenues for its parent firm, Facebook. Facebook executives mentioned that they plan to work with Jio Platforms to look for ways to digitize India’s 60 million small and medium-sized enterprises.
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