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WhatsApp cleared to launch payments service in India

WhatsApp cleared to launch payments service in India

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has finally gotten the greenlight to launch its payments service in India.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has given WhatsApp approval to go live on the country's United Payments Interface (UPI). WhatsApp can expand its UPI userbase gradually, starting with 20 million users.

WhatsApp began testing P2P payments in India in 2018 but has, until now, struggled to secure clearance for a full launch.

The company has hundreds of millions of users in India but is facing a crowded payments market with stiff competition from Google Pay, Walmart's PhonePe and local outfit Paytm.

The live launch came after the NCPI granted approval for WhatsAppc to expand its UPI user base "in a graded manner" starting with a maximum registered user base of 20 million in UPI.

WhatsApp has teamed with five Indian financial institutions - ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, the State Bank of India, and Jio Payments Bank - to take the service nationwide.

The company says of the initiative: "In the long run, we believe the combination of WhatsApp and UPI’s unique architecture can help local organizations address some of the key challenges of our time, including increasing rural participation in the digital economy and delivering financial services to those who have never had access before."

The NPCI decision comes shortly after the Competition Commission of India dismissed a case accusing WhatsApp of abusing its dominate market position in messaging to move into the country's payments space.

Earlier this year, the firm launched payments in Brazil only to be shut down by the central bank within ten days over competition issues.

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