WhatsApp will finally be able to roll out its digital payments platform WhatsApp Pay in India, after securing a key regulatory approval. The company has been trying to launch its payment feature for two years now. WhatsApp was granted a license to operate its UPI based payment service by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), an RBI official told Business Standard. The NCPI’s approval comes days after clearance from India’s apex bank, the RBI.
WhatsApp Pay to Roll Out in a Phased Manner
The UPI based digital payment service, however, will be rolled out in a phased manner as per the RBI official. The WhatsApp Pay feature will initially be offered out to 10 million users in the first phase. “Pending other compliance points, the messaging platform will be able to do a full rollout,” the official said, reports Business Standard.
WhatsApp Pay feature was first introduced in February 2018 as a trial run for select users (nearly a million) in partnership with ICICI Bank. However, the company couldn’t officially roll out the service pending regulatory approval from the government.
The key reason was compliance with data localisation norms, which delayed the launch until now. The government expressed data security and privacy concerns and wanted WhatsApp to store all of its data locally.
WhatsApp hopes to make it big in India’s digital payments market as it has over 400 million user base at its disposal. It will directly compete with Alphabet Inc’s Google Pay, Walmart’s PhonePe, Alibaba’s Paytm, and Amazon Pay.
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had promised the rollout of WhatsApp in a number of countries in the next six months.
"We got approval to test this (payment services) with one million people in India back in 2018. And when so many of the people kept using it week after week, we knew it was going to be big when we get to launch," Zuckerberg had said.
WhatsApp’s digital payment system based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will allow users to pay others or do business transactions through their bank accounts. The WhatsApp Pay will be integrated into the WhatsApp messaging app itself.