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.


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