WhatsApp Payments out of beta with new bank partners, government directs setting up local office

WhatsApp Payments service is out of beta, but wider rollout may be delayed.

  • Published: August 1, 2018 10:42 AM IST

WhatsApp Payments has finally moved out of beta. In addition, it has a long list of new banking partners to enable UPI payments for over 200 million users in India. With the service live, users can use UPI IDs from these newer banks as well.

WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned company, offers messaging services, but has recently been testing a cashless payments service in India. The service will enable over 200 million users in India to send and receive payments right from the messaging app. However, signalling a few roadblocks, the government has informed WhatsApp that it can’t rollout the payments service in India unless it sets up a local office.

According to a report on ET, WhatsApp has started looking out for two senior profiles – India Head and Head of Policy – as setting up an office has now become a top priority. It’s been months since WhatsApp has been testing the UPI-based payments service. In a recent interview, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that he sees a huge demand for WhatsApp Payments in India.

“Of the people who have tested this (WhatsApp Payments), feedback and usage have been very strong. All signs point to a lot of people wanting to use this when the government gives us the green light,” Zuckerberg said on a call with investors. The approval from the Indian government is pending as it has expressed concerns over how the data will be stored. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has reportedly asked the company to furnish details about the payment system privacy and security.

The government’s stand to look into data security comes after existing digital payments players pointed about WhatsApp flouting the norms. Paytm CEO and founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has been one of the biggest critics, who also said that NPCI asked Paytm to delay its UPI payments to make way for global giants such as WhatsApp and Google.

MeitY has asked NPCI to check if WhatsApp Payments service fits the RBI rules and data security of users. In response, WhatsApp stated that it does not store sensitive user data such as UPI PIN and 6-digit debit card PIN. However, the company did admit that it was using Facebook’s infrastructure for the payments service.

Meanwhile, the recent draft of Data Protection Bill submitted by Justice Srikrishna panel could cause a major impact to WhatsApp’s plan. According to the draft, payment companies should ensure that at least one copy of the personal data should be located in a data center based in India.

  • Published Date: August 1, 2018 10:42 AM IST