WhatsApp is testing a payment ability in India which will enable users to send money to other users of the mobile app.
Citing sources familiar with the company’s plan, TechCrunch reported the service is currently in beta tests. WhatsApp has opted not to make an official announcement yet because the service isn’t available on a wide basis.
WhatsApp’s payment solution takes advantage of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India and includes support from a handful of banks, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank. Customers who are part of the beta test have reported the function is live, with the list of supporting banks displayed in the app’s user interface.
Back in July, TechCrunch reported that WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, received a nod from the Indian government to integrate UPI into the WhatsApp messaging app. By enabling payments in the app, WhatsApp will be competing against Tez from Google, which already supports peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, and Hike, which has the backing of China’s Tencent. Despite the competition, TechCrunch noted that WhatsApp shouldn’t have a problem winning over users, given that the app is very popular with residents of India: WhatsApp has more than 200 million active daily users in the country.
The payments beta test in India isn’t the only news WhatsApp has had since the start of 2018. In January, the company announced the launch of WhatsApp Business, a free Android app targeted at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). WhatsApp noted the new app will make it easier for small businesses to connect with customers, including its existing 1.3 billion users.
“People all around the world use WhatsApp to connect with small businesses they care about — from online clothing companies in India to auto parts stores in Brazil,” the company wrote. “But WhatsApp was built for people, and we want to improve the business experience. For example, by making it easier for businesses to respond to customers, separating customer and personal messages and creating an official presence.”