Ever since the Indian government’s decision to demonetize the economy by withdrawing higher denomination currency notes, Indians has been through a rather topsy turvy journey. On one hand there were calls to weed out black money. On the other, there was a firm call to adapt digital modes of transactions. It’s interesting though, because what was once a cash driven economy is rising up to the cause. We now have well over a dozen modes of transactions. Last month, Truecaller introduced Truecaller 8 for Android which, in addition to identifying spam callers and unknown contacts, also allowed users to transact with each other using NPCI’s UPI platform.
If the Truecaller announcement wasn’t enough, we also witnessed the India launch of the much-famed Samsung Pay, which brought the convenience of contactless payments not only to flagship Samsung devices, but also to feature phones. It seemed India’s move towards becoming a digital economy (or cashless economy at the least) was getting a radical push.
According to a report in The Ken, WhatsApp is hiring a head of digital transactions specializing in UPI and Aadhaar payments (via Factordaily). This indicates the stage is set for a payments-enabled WhatsApp messaging service. This could just be a trigger for other payment services such as Android Pay and Apple Pay to have a closer look at India, and ramp up in a market that is determined in its move towards digital payments.
Earlier this year, on a visit to India, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton did spill the beans when he hinted at continuing to “invest so we can help more people across India, and we hope to contribute more to India’s vision for digital commerce in the future.” Essentially, if India is moving towards a digital economy and millions of users in India are on a communication platform and they also want to transact, it’s a no-brainer of an opportunity. But given the clout WhatsApp commands in India, especially with its large user base — over 200 million monthly active users in India — it might just be the platform of choice for users to transact with each other. If anything, Paytm may end up losing some of its early sheen if WhatsApp opts for UPI as its preferred platform. ALSO READ: WhatsApp crosses 200 million monthly active users in India; looks to integrate payments
In response to our queries, an official WhatsApp spokesperson told BGR India, “India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we’re understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India. We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users.”