WhatsApp Eying Offering Digital Payments In India

Facebook-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp may be making a digital payments play in its largest global market — India.  This would be the firm’s first such move anywhere on Earth.

The vision, according to emerging reports, is that WhatsApp’s India offering would be somewhat similar to WeChat’s in China. WhatsApp currently has about 200 million users in India.

The firm is already working to launch person-to-person payments in India in the next six months, according to unnamed sources in local media. According to WhatsApp’s job posting, the firm is looking for employees with “a technical and financial background who understand India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and the BHIM payments app that enables money transfers and merchant payments using mobile numbers.’

“India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we're understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India,” a WhatsApp spokesman said, referring to a flagship government program that aims to boost the use of Internet-based services in the country.

“We're exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users,” the spokesman said, declining to elaborate further.

In February, WhatsApp’s co-founder, Brian Acton, had told local media that the app was in early stages of investigating digital payments in the country and that he had talked to the Indian government about the matter.

Just last week, Swedish communications app Truecaller, which has a large user base in India, started a mobile payment service in the country based on the UPI platform.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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