WhatsApp rolls out UPI-based payments service in India; 'excited', says Mark Zuckerberg

WhatsApp's payments experience makes "transferring money just as easy as sending a message", says the company; Zuckerberg says he is glad to support India's digitisation efforts through the UPI platform

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

After over two years of long wait, messaging platform WhatsApp has finally rolled out its UPI-based payments service, WhatsApp Pay, for Indian users. "Starting today, people across India will be able to send money through WhatsApp," the company announced today.

WhatsApp said its payments service is designed with a strong set of security and privacy principles, including entering a personal UPI PIN for each payment. The service is available both iPhone and Android apps.

With the launch its UPI-based payments service, WhatsApp now joins the list of GooglePay, PhonePe and Paytm. 

The company said this secure payments experience makes "transferring money just as easy as sending a message". WhatsApp's announcement to start payments service came after it received the go-ahead from the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to offer UPI-based digital payments on Thursday.

Also read: NPCI allows WhatsApp to start UPI services with only 5% users

The social media giant said people can now safely send money to a family member or share the cost of goods from a distance without having to exchange cash in person or going to a local bank.

The company had to wait for two years to get the mandatory approval due to data localisation requirements. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a video message, said he is glad to support India's digitisation efforts through the UPI platform. "With UPI, India has created something truly special and is opening up a world of opportunities for micro and small businesses that are the backbone of the Indian economy. India is the first country to do anything like this. I'm glad we were able to support this effort and work together to help achieve a more digital India," Zuckerberg said.

The NPCI, the umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlements in India, while taking a cautious approach, has allowed WhatsApp to expand its UPI user base in a graded manner, starting with a maximum registered users of 20 million in UPI.

This effectively means that not all WhatsApp users will be able to use payments service in India for now. It can use only 5 per cent of its 400 million users in India for UPI-based payments. The NPCI has not clarified the time period for increasing WhatsApp Pay's user base to higher limits.

"In the long run, we believe the combination of WhatsApp and UPI's unique architecture can help local organisations 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 Facebook-owned company said.

WhatsApp said it'll work with five leading banks in India, including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, the State Bank of India, and Jio Payments Bank.

How to send money via WhatsApp

  • To send money on WhatsApp in India, it's necessary to have a bank account and debit card in India
  • WhatsApp sends instructions to banks that initiate the transfer of money via UPI between sender and receiver bank accounts.
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