After months of speculation, instant-messaging platform WhatsApp has finally started India rollout of its payments service in beta mode based on Unified Payments Interface or UPI, according to portal WABetaInfo.
UPI is a single-window mobile payment system launched by the government that eliminates the need for bank details or other sensitive information to initiate a transaction. WABetaInfo’s tweet reporting the beta rollout saw WhatsApp users replying with screenshots of the payment system. Screenshots explaining how to set up the new feature were also tweeted out by WABetaInfo.
According to a Gizmo Times report, the feature failed to add banks as an option for payments. Last month, a report in The Economic Times had said that WhatsApp may roll out the payments feature in February.
The report had then said that the Facebook, Inc.-owned chat app was working with top lenders such as State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank to integrate UPI into the solution.
Following a meeting between WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton and minister of electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad in February last year, the company received approval to use UPI. Last year in April, a Reuters report had said the company listed out a vacancy looking for a “digital transactions lead for the country” who understands India’s UPI and BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money), a UPI-based payments app by the government.
WhatsApp's payment option move comes close on the heels of another rollout of a feature that connects small businesses with customers. Armed with both, WhatsApp will join the battle against digital payments rivals Paytm Mobile Solutions Pvt Ltd, One MobiKwik Systems Private Limited and Google Tez.
In December last year, Google had said its UPI-based payments app Tez had acquired 12 million active users in just 10 weeks since its launch in India and that it would start offering bill payments as well. Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led Paytm has also included UPI-based payments in its wallet services.