Facebook-owned WhatsApp is to finally launch its payment service ‘WhatsApp Pay’ in India. It is set to meet the data localization requirements set up by the Reserve Bank of India as informed by the National Payments Corp. of India.
As per the RBI rules, payments data, settlement transactions, payment information, customer data, and other related data have to be stored in Indian data centres. India’s National Payment Corp. gave a green signal for meeting all requirements by WhatsApp.
RBI filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court last week saying: NPCI told the bank that WhatsApp’s compliance with the data rules was satisfactory and ready to go live on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Currently, the messaging app is offering the payment service to some users under its pilot projects.
Public interest litigation was filed by the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change, Delhi-based think tank, in the apex court challenging WhatsApp’s pilot project for not complying with data localization norms. Following the case, RBI had to submit WhatsApp data policy records to the court.
Two years ago, WhatsApp launched its payment pilot program in partnership with ICICI bank. The company waited to clear regulatory norms in order to launch its UPI-based payment service for Indian users.
Apart from India, WhatsApp launched its payment service in Brazil. However, within a week, the Brazilian central bank has suspended the payment operations in the country. The bank said the decision was taken to ensure competition and evaluate the risk posed by the service to the country’s payment structure.
India has 400 active million WhatsApp users, which give an edge to the company. As of May, existing payment services such as Google Pay capture 42 percent of the market share in UPI transactions. Flipkart-owned PhonePe commands 35 percent share, with the remaining 23 percent being in the hold of Paytm, Bharat Pe, Amazon Pay, and other payment services.
The broader picture of bringing the payment service in India lies in the Facebook-Jio deal. Jio platform, in return for a 9.9 percent stake, signed a record Rs 43,574 crore deal with Facebook. As part of the deal, Facebook agreed to provide Jio access to its WhatsApp user base in India.
Facebook is in a plan to onboard millions of small Indian businesses on Whatsapp. These businesses can do commerce operations on the platform, the target is mainly bringing local Kirana stores online. With the payment service, customers can conduct payment in return for the services provided by the businesses.
Reliance launched a WhatsApp delivery pilot program in April in three cities in Maharastra. As part of the program, app users can browse and order groceries on the app. Once the Kirana store packs the items, the user can go collect the pack and pay at the store.
WhatsApp also has 15 million active users on its WhatsApp business app. The app is purely developed for business activities. Recently, the company launched new features to help users expand their operations on the app. Features such as starting a chat with QR code, a whole new update to share catalogue, and sticker pack are to help businesses.
Payment services directly integrated into the business app will take the whole experience to another level. Though the WhatsApp business only has fewer users compared to the official Messenger app, its presence in India is widespread. The company is in plans to further expand the app after integrating the payment service.