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WhatsApp Pay to launch in India soon, gets approval from NPCI

Ankita Chakravarti     February 7, 2020

WhatsApp Pay will be finally available to Indian users as Facebook has got a nod from the National Payments Corporation of India for launching the payment app in India. The rollout will allow the messaging app to grow its payment services using government's UPI scheme. In 2018, the Facebook-backed messaging app stated that they are offering WhatsApp Pay to one million users in India as part of beta testing. However, it couldn't launch formally because of the delay in approval by NPCI.

"The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has granted WhatsApp permission to operate its digital payment service in a phased manner," Business Standard quoted a Reserve Bank of India official as saying. The NPCI approval came days after RBI's nod.

In the first phase of the rollout, the WhatsApp Pay will be made available to over 10 million people through the messaging app. Post the successful launch, WhatsApp Pay is likely to become one of the largest mobile payments apps in India considering the messaging app has over 450 million users in the country.

Earlier, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg had revealed that the WhatsApp Pay will be rolled out in several countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia to name a few.

It was fairly difficult for WhatsApp Pay to get approval from the NPCI because of data compliance issues that its parent company Facebook needs to address. The Reserve Bank of India and the Indian Government were not too confident about giving WhatsApp the approval because of some of its features. The latest vulnerabilities that were discovered in WhatsApp also added to the reasons for the delay in approval by the RBI and the government.

WhatsApp Pay will however not have a smooth sail in India as there are a myriad of payments app already in the market. It will lock in for tough competition with the Ali Baba backed Paytm, Google's Google Pay app, Phone Pe and Mobiwik among others. Google Pay currently is the most used payment app in India followed by Paytm. Notably, WhatsApp Pay launch might affect the businesses of these apps that are dominating the digital payment space in India.

The payments app like Paytm, Phone Pe and even Google Pay are not merely used for transferring money or making payments. These apps also come with features that allow users to book movie, train, plane tickets, recharge their metro cards, DTH etc. Some apps also allow users to transfer money directly to their bank accounts. It would be interesting to see what services the WhatsApp Pay will provide to its users.

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