WhatsApp rushing to launch its payments feature in India next week

  • WhatsApp Pay may be rolled out pan-India starting next week according to sources in the know.
  • While HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are prepared, the State Bank of India (SBI) is yet to implement the necessary systems.
  • Sources indicate that Facebook is rushing into the roll out to counter the current competition in the market.

It’s not surprising that with 200 million users in India, WhatsApp wants to roll out its payments features as soon as
next week. Insight from sources talking to
ETtech state that the Facebook-owned messaging app wants to rush ahead with the roll out even though all the partners aren’t ready.

Reports suggest that while HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are set to process transfers, State Bank of India (SBI) is yet to put the relevant systems in place. So, now, instead of a full rollout, Facebook is deciding to go ahead with its three partners to counter the competition.

So, what’s the rush?

Rather than necessity being the mother of invention, the inventions are themselves turning responsible for the new requirements of an ever evolving ecosystem. Thus, with the Cashless India campaign pulling in new users with its own
unified payment interface (UPI), apps like Tez and PayTm have experienced a significant
boom.

And thus, it’s not surprising that WhatsApp wants to capitalise on that opportunity with its huge user base in India. The pilot version of WhatsApp Pay was
launched on Android under the app’s beta version earlier in February this year with a base of 1 million users. Thus far, it has received
positive reviews.

Google’s Tez and Alibaba-backed PayTm have both expressed their
displeasure at this development. Tez even
launched its own chat feature to make its own platform more appealing to users.

Their ‘displeasure’ isn’t surprising in the least since WhatsApp already has 200 million users, which is essentially, 20 times that of PayTm. If all WhatsApp users potentially move to using it as a payment platform, the competition it would bring to the cashless sector is massive.

That being said, users should be aware that WhatsApp in itself isn’t a licensed financial institution. Their terms and conditions explicitly
state that – “(WhatsApp is) not responsible for UPI service interruptions or acts or omissions of PSPs or your bank including the payments, settlement and clearance of funds.”

Some features don’t get introduced because they’re necessary but because they’re convenient, or add to the already existing convenience of an app. Such seems to be the case for WhatsApp and the integration of its payment feature.

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