WhatsApp Gains Approval To Double Indian Payment Service – Report

WhatsApp’s digital payments offering is to be expanded in the huge market of India, it has been reported.

According to Reuters, which cited two sources familiar with the matter, WhatsApp has won regulatory approval to more than double the number of users of its payments service in India to 100 million.

WhatsApp first began offering users in Brazil its chat-based payments system in June 2020, that allowed users to send money or pay merchants without leaving chat service.

WhatsApp Payments

The service can be used free of charge between individuals, with businesses paying a processing fee of 3.99 percent per transaction.

Businesses have access to additional features, such as the ability to issue refunds or access technical support.

Payments are typically set up with a linked Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card, with a six-digit PIN or fingerprint required to complete the transaction.

Brazil is WhatsApp’s second-biggest user base with approximately 120 million monthly active users in the South American country.

But India is by far WhatsApp’s biggest market, with more than 500 million monthly active users.

Facebook had been trialling WhatsApp payments in India for a number of years, using India’s UPI payments system, after trying to comply with Indian regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally.

Indian expansion

Indeed, Meta’s messaging division only obtained the needed regulatory permissions in 2020 from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), for a limited launch of just 20 million users.

The cap was increased to 40 million in November 2021.

WhatsApp has over the years told NPCI that there should be no cap on users of its payments service in India.

Now according to the Reuters report, the NPCI told WhatsApp on Wednesday it can increase the number of users to 100 million from 40 million currently.

WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although the NPCI confirmed the development in a statement to Reuters.

Despite Meta apparently winning approval to provide the service to 100 million Indians, the firm is likely to be disappointed it cannot offer the service to its full user base of 500 million plus in the country.

Reuters, citing one of its sources, reported that the NPCI’s private caution is down to the view that allowing all its users to access the payments service – integrated with the app and allowing contacts to send each other funds – could strain the country’s financial infrastructure.

WhatsApp competes with Google Pay, SoftBank- and Ant Group-backed Paytm and Walmart’s PhonePe in India’s crowded digital market.

Online transactions, lending and e-wallet services have been growing rapidly in India, led by a government push to make the country’s cash-loving merchants and consumers adopt digital payments, Reuters reported.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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