WhatsApp to start customer lending, co-branded cards in India

WhatsApp to start customer lending, co-branded cards in India
Photo Credit: Pixabay
29 Apr, 2020

Facebook-backed chat app platform WhatsApp will enter the consumer-lending space and the co-branded stored value and transaction cards and prepaid payment instruments categories with the launch of its payments business in India. 

In a filing dated April 9 with the Registrar of Companies, WhatsApp in its altered memorandum of association said that it will “advance money or give credit” to customers and others, “enter into guarantees, contracts of indemnity and surety ship of all kinds.”

The company also increased its authorised share capital from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1.67 crore issuing new equity shares in the Indian entity, WhatsApp Application Services Private Limited.

The company which launched WhatsApp Pay in 2018 in India, has been restricted to limiting its UPI based peer to peer payment feature to 1 million users owing to data regulations. The company had not complied with RBI’s mandate to store and process payments data of Indian users within the geography issued in April 2018. 

In February, reports said that WhatsApp had received approval from RBI and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and was likely to be rolled out to 10 million users in the first phase of expansion.

The company did not respond to specific questions on the rollout of WhatsApp Pay or initiating credit services to consumers. However, regulatory filings by the company’s Indian entity indicate that the company will soon announce the launch of payment services to its 450 million-plus user base in India. In January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had stated that the platform would roll out its payment services in India within six months

The development was first reported by Times of India.

This comes soon after Facebook acquired a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion, cementing its India presence and in a bid to woo small businesses. Soon after the deal was announced, JioMart, the kirana store network of Reliance Jio debuted on WhatsApp.

In a separate development, WhatsApp announced extending the number of participants to eight on its video and voice calls, with a view on helping users stay connected in view of the Covid-19 related lockdown. In a blog post, the company said, “Over the last month, people on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic. And just like written messages, all those calls are protected with end-to-end encryption.”