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May 5, 2020

WhatsApp set to debut payments service in India by May-end

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp is reportedly set to roll out its payments service by the end of this month.

WhatsApp Pay is based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) standard. This standard allows users to transact without using their net banking credentials.

Citing sources familiar with the development, Indian business news portal Money Control reported that WhatsApp Pay will be available for all users in India by May-end.

The launch will be backed by major private sector lenders such as ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, and HDFC Bank.

However, the country’s largest public sector bank State Bank of India (SBI), which is also one of the partners for WhatsApp Pay, will not go live in the first phase, the report added.

WhatsApp secured key regulatory approval to launch its payment services in India in phases in February this year.

WhatsApp spokesperson told Moneycontrol: “We are continuing to work with the government so that we can provide access to payments on WhatsApp to all of our users. Payments on WhatsApp will help accelerate digital payments and this is particularly important during Covid as it is a safer way to transact for our 400 million users in India.”

Several other apps such as Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, and NPCI-created BHIM are also based on UPI standard.

The report added that WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $21bn in 2014, is working on abiding by the Reserve Bank of India’s data localisation norms, which is believed to have been the key reason behind the launch delay.

Recently, reports emerged that the Facebook-owned digital payments platform is also mulling to foray into Indian’s lucrative loans and lending market soon.

The company, in its filing with the ministry of corporate affairs, said it would explore this business plan in partnership with local banks since it can’t indulge in any banking business as per the law.

“To advance money or give credit on such terms as may seem expedient, and with or without security, to customers and others,” the filing said.

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