WhatsApp to add payments in messaging app in India

November 06, 2017 10:03
The payments feature is now in its final stages and WhatsApp employees are testing it out. WhatsApp will unveil an extended beta program in November. Photo: Bloomberg

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has been developing a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment service for India that it plans to introduce in December, according to Factor Daily.

This will be the first time the global messaging app is introducing the payments feature anywhere in the world.

As Factor Daily reports, the feature is now in its final stages and WhatsApp employees are testing it out. WhatsApp will unveil an extended beta program in November, the report cites a person with knowledge of the plan.

The feature is expected to be integrated directly into the chat app, which means users make payments without leaving the chat interface just like sharing a contact or location on the instant messenger.

According to the source, a window with a rupee sign symbol will pop up alongside buttons that allow users to share a location or a contact when a user clicks on the attach symbol in the chat window.

The user can either send or request money by clicking the rupee button. The user can input the amount to be paid and personal identification number before hitting send.

On the other hand, the receiver will get a notification, similar to the one when you receive a contact. There is an option to accept or reject the request.

The global messaging app counts over 200 million users in India, about two-thirds of smartphone users in the country, and 1.3 billion worldwide.

According to the report, WhatsApp has partnered with three of India’s biggest banks – State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, to launch the feature.

The messaging service has already begun experimenting with verified business accounts in India, which companies use to communicate with customers. The new payment feature will be based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a payment standard and system backed by the Indian government in its push to bring more integrated banking services into a very fragmented market

As per data from the National Payments Corp. of India, 30.8 million transactions worth 5,290 crore rupees were carried out over the UPI platform in September 2017, nearly 100 times the number of transactions in November 2016.

In India, wallets such as Paytm and PhonePe also facilitate business to business transactions such as bill payments. Foreign companies like Google, Amazon and Uber are getting in on the action alongside local players.

In September, Google launched Tez, a free mobile wallet in India that will let users link up their phones to their bank accounts to pay for goods securely in physical stores and online, and for person-to-person money transfers with a new twist: Audio QR, which uses ultrasonic sounds to let you exchange money, bypassing any need for NFC.

WhatsApp, like another new service from Google’s Tez, by far is limited to transferring funds from one person’s bank account to another’s because of complex Indian banking regulations. On the other hand, Paytm has cast itself as a broader financial player, handling payments made by credit and debit cards, the government’s electronic transfer system, and digital wallets.

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Smartphone sales, along with mobile usage such as mobile payment, are expected to see rapid growth in India. Photo: Reuters