WhatsApp Pay to launch in India as NPCI allows phased roll out: Report

NPCI, which operates the UPI payments infrastructure in the country, has granted WhatsApp the necessary permission to operate its digital payment service.

After months of seeking key approvals, WhatsApp will finally be able to roll out UPI payments on its platform in India.

According to a recent report in Business Standard, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which operates the UPI payments infrastructure, has granted WhatsApp the necessary permission to operate the digital payment service in the country.

A senior Reserve Bank of India (RBI) executive has been quoted saying that WhatsApp is expected to roll out this service in a phased manner. The company will be offering this payment service to 10 million users in its first phase. Post completion and receiving pending other compliances, the messaging giant will do a full rollout thereafter.   

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been beta-testing its UPI-based payment service for almost two years now.

After a full-scale launch, it will be directly competing with the likes of market leader Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, and other BHIM UPI apps.

The biggest roadblock to the launch of WhatsApp Payments in India is considered to be the data localisation norms, which the RBI had introduced in April 2018. The apex bank had asked payment firms (operating in India) to ensure that their data is stored exclusively on local servers.

Recently, in November 2019, following the Israeli spyware Pegasus hacking incident, the RBI told the Supreme Court that the messaging platform WhatsApp is non-compliant with data localisation norms.

The apex bank directed NPCI to not allow a full-scale launch of the payments service in India by the Facebook-owned company.

In fact, earlier, this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a part of the company’s Q4 2019 earnings call, announced that it was looking to launch the service in other countries. 

At the time, he had said, “One example we've been working on is WhatsApp Payments. You'll be able to send money as quickly and easily as sending a photo. We got approval to test this with a million people in India back in 2018, and when so many of the people kept using it week after week, we knew it was going to be big when we get to launch. I'm really excited about this and I expect this to start rolling this out in a number of countries and for us to make a lot of progress here in the next six months." 

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)


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