Popular messaging platform WhatsApp has announced a financial inclusion program for India. The program, launched as a part of scaling up its financial payment business in the country, intends to encourage digital payments among people across all segments, especially the users from rural India.
In Meta’s annual event, Fuel for India 2021, WhatsApp said that it had familiarised villagers from 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra to sign up for UPI payments, set up UPI ID and provided training on the safety aspects of using digital payments. The Meta-owned company ran a pilot program, ‘Digital Payments Utsav’ in October 2021.
According to Abhijith Bose, WhatsApp India Head, WhatsApp’s reliability and user-friendliness will facilitate the adoption of UPI with the users, including those from the bottom of the pyramid. WhatsApp is on the mission to onboard millions of people to the country’s digital payment system, towards which it will educate more users on digital payments. The mission is to gradually transition people from a ‘cash-only’ way of life to ‘digital payments.’
WhatsApp has partnered with startup 1Bridge to implement the project at the grassroots.
Scaling up digital payments in India
Expanding the digital payment wing of WhatsApp is a vital part of its India strategy. The company plans to focus on four key areas in India – Fostering small and micro-business systems, easy access to business services, partnering to invest in social impact projects and growing digital payments.
WhatsApp launched Digital Payments in India in November 2020. The company processed 3.1 lakh UPI payments worth Rs 13.87 crores within the first month of its launch. In November 2021, the transacted value reportedly reached Rs 149.4 crore, making a 43.4% increase from Rs 104.2 crore in October 2021. Its supporting banking partners include the State Bank of India, Axis Bank, HDFC and ICICI.
To make the payment feature more visible on the platform, WhatsApp has added the rupee icon in the chat composer. WhatsApp has more than 530 million users in India.
Voice Message Preview feature rolled out
Meanwhile, WhatsApp has rolled out a preview feature for its voice notes for iOS and Android users. The users can now check the preview of their voice messages before sending them to the contacts. The feature works on both individual and group chats. The user has to touch the microphone button and slide it up to lock hands-free recording to use the feature. Here the user can see a stop button and trash can to discard the message. After recording the voice note, users can tap the stop button and hit play to listen to the message recorded.