WhatsApp unveiled payments services in India following approval by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) after a wait that extended for more than two years.
However, not all users in India — one of the biggest markets for the unit of Facebook — would be able to access the feature as NPCI had mandated expansion of WhatsApp’s UPI user base ‘in a graded manner starting with a maximum registered user base of 20 million.’
“We’ll continue to work with them [NPCI] to make it available to everyone over time,” the company said in an e-mailed response.
The NPCI approval also follows another recent direction imposing a cap of 30% of the total volume of transactions processed in UPI, applicable to all third-party app providers, effective January 1, 2021.
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, had started testing its UPI-based payments system in 2018 and would now compete with players such as Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay and PhonePe.
“Starting today, people across India will be able to send money through WhatsApp. This secure payments experience makes transferring money just as easy as sending a message,” WhatsApp said in a blogpost.
“I am excited today that WhatsApp has been approved to launch payments across India. Now you can send money to your friends and family through WhatsApp as easily as sending a message,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “There’s no fee, and it’s supported by more than 140 banks. And because it’s WhatsApp, it’s secure and private too.”
Mr Zuckerberg said when people can access financial tools, they’re more empowered to support themselves and others, or start a business. In the long term, there is a need for more innovation that gives people control over their money, and making payments easier is a small step that can really help, he said.
In the blogpost, WhatsApp explained that to send money on WhatsApp in India, it’s necessary to have a bank account and debit card in India. WhatsApp sends instructions to banks, also known as payment service providers, that initiate the transfer of money via UPI between sender and receiver bank accounts.
“We’re delighted to be working with five leading banks in India: ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, the State Bank of India, and Jio Payments Bank. People can send money on WhatsApp to anyone using a UPI supported app.” it said, adding for added security a personal UPI PIN will be required for each payment.
Payments on WhatsApp is now available for people on the latest version of the iPhone and Android app, it said.