Update (06/Nov/2020): No fees will be charged for using the WhatsApp Pay service, clarified Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg in a video statement today.
“Now you can send money to your friends and family through WhatsApp as easily as sending a message. There’s no fee, and it’s supported by more than 140 banks. And because it’s WhatsApp, it’s secure and private too,”, he said, as quoted by The Economic Times.
After months of legal rambling and regulatory battles, WhatsApp has finally received the green lights from the National Payments Corporations of India (NCPI) to go live on the UPI network in India. The Payments feature will be available in 10 regional languages of the app and support for over 140 banks across India. Interestingly enough, the announcement also coincides with NCPI’s new decision to cap UPI transactions on third-party app like WhatsApp Pay.
What’s important to note is that the permission is currently allowed only to a part of its userbase, 20 million, to be exact. This will be gradually expanded in the future to encompass more of WhatsApp’s 400 million active users in the country. Before this nod from the NCPI, WhatsApp had already been testing the beta platform on a limited 1 million users since last year.
Starting today, people across India will be able to send money through WhatsApp 💸 This secure payments experience makes transferring money just as easy as sending a message. pic.twitter.com/bM1hMEB7sb
— WhatsApp Inc. (@WhatsApp) November 6, 2020
How to use WhatsApp Pay to make payments
WhatsApp Pay’s introduction will obviously be a threat to the likes of Walmart-owned PhonePe and Google Pay which are the top two players in India controlling almost 80% of UPI transactions. With the NCPI’s introduction of the 30% cap, this means that both PhonePe and Google Pay will have to scale down to adhere to the new guidelines while WhatsApp Pay gets a graded permission to onboard more users.
In terms of how WhatsApp Pay works, not much has changed from the beta. The setup process is fairly simple. However, do note that it won’t be available to each and every user just yet which is a bummer. But if you do, you’ll see a “Payments” section in the settings menu that can be accessed from the top right menu. If it is available, all users need to do is verify the phone number that is registered with the bank (five major banks are currently supported – State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Jio Payments Bank).
WhatsApp’s aim to expand beyond just messaging has been clear since it started introducing commercial features to the app. Those ambitions were solidified as WhatsApp owner Facebook made a tie-up with Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms in what was the largest foreign direct investment valued at $5.7 billion for the Indian tech space.
With such a huge userbase, and ties with one of the biggest Indian commercial conglomerates, it is clear that WhatsApp Pay is set to grow a lot in India in the coming months and years. In somewhat related news, WhatsApp recently introduced a Storage Management tool and Disappearing Messages on its platform just a few days ago.