WhatsApp Pay To Launch Payments In 10 Indian Languages After NPCI Nod

WhatsApp Pay to go live on UPI in a phased manner, NPCI said in a statement.

Whatsapp Pay (Source: BloombergQuint)
Whatsapp Pay (Source: BloombergQuint)

WhatsApp Inc., the Facebook-owned messaging platform, will roll out payments feature for users across the country in regional languages, a day after securing an approval from the National Payments Corporation of India.

“Payments is available now in 10 Indian regional language versions of WhatsApp. All you need is a debit card with a bank that supports UPI and you can set it up straight away. You can find it in the latest version of WhatsApp,” Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer at Facebook, was quoted as saying in a statement on Friday. It can be used by Android and iOS users after the latest update on the application.

The NPCI has given its nod to WhatsApp to offer payments services via the Unified Payments Interface. This ends a two-year wait for WhatsApp Pay, which has so far been operating pilot operations for users in India.

WhatsApp Pay will join an already crowded market of payment services offered via the UPI network. Google Pay, PhonePe and PayTM are some of the largest processors of UPI payments, apart from applications of individual banks. The permission for WhatsApp pay to go live came on a day when the NPCI also introduced a market share cap of 30% on the volume of UPI transactions starting January 2021.

WhatsApp can go live on the UPI framework in a graded manner, NPCI has said. In the first phase, it can expand its payments user base to 20 million, according to NPCI. WhatsApp has nearly 400 million users in India. Currently, in the beta phase, as part of the pilot operations, WhatsApp Pay serves about 1 million customers.

The payments feature built on the UPI framework “makes it easy for anyone to instantly accept payments across different apps, and for companies to provide people with great services”, Zuckerberg said.

The messaging platform is currently working with five Indian banks, including State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Jio Payments Bank to process payment services. Users can transfer funds across 160 banks in India using WhatsApp, the statement said.

The launch of WhatsApp Pay had seen considerable delays, at first due to data localisation norms introduced by the Reserve Bank of India. WhatsApp Pay also faced a challenge in the Supreme Court earlier this year, when a plea was filed regarding a pilot payment program being run by the company.

WhatsApp has already been expanding beyond messaging in India.

In October, BloombergQuint had reported that WhatsApp has entered the e-commerce space which will allow customers to shop and soon pay using the messaging service. In April, Bloomberg had reported that Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Mart was testing a WhatsApp-backed online stores in India, where customers will be able to order products directly from their messaging application.

WhatsApp’s owner Facebook had inked a $5.7 billion investment deal with Ambani’s Jio platforms in April.