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WhatsApp Pay gets closer to rollout in India

WhatsApp Pay has received regulatory approval in its biggest market.

Published onFebruary 7, 2020

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WhatsApp’s long-awaited payments platform has reportedly received a regulatory nod in India. Called WhatsApp Pay, the service is set to rollout in the country in a phased manner.

Business Standard reports that WhatsApp has been given the go ahead for its payments platform by The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The regulatory approval comes days after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave WhatsApp the go ahead to launch its service.

“The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has granted permission to operate its digital payment service in a phased manner,” an RBI executive told Business Standard on Friday.

WhatsApp Pay will reportedly be rolled out to 10 million users in India initially, followed by a full country-wide rollout.

WhatsApp has apparently assured the NPCI and RBI that it will comply with India’s data localization rules. These make it mandatory for companies to store the payments-related data of users on local servers that reside within the country.

“Pending other compliance points, the messaging platform will be able to do a full rollout,” the source told Business Standard.

Is WhatsApp Pay an India-only service?

For now, it looks like WhatsApp Pay will be restricted to India. The service was previously tested by a million users in the country back in 2018. It is based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) standard developed by NPCI.

Once it launches in India, WhatsApp Pay will be one of the largest payments platform in the country, rivalling the likes of Google Pay, Paytm, Phone Pe, and others. This is thanks to the 400 million plus Indians that already use WhatsApp for messaging.

Related: Best money manager apps in India

It is still unclear if WhatsApp Pay will expand to other countries. However, the possibility can’t be ruled out completely.

During a recent earnings call with investors, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We got approval to test this [payment services] with one 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.”

He also said that the company expects to launch WhatsApp Pay in a bunch of countries within the next six months.

Will it be safe to use though?

Given Facebook and WhatsApp’s track record over the past couple of years, it’s hard to trust the company with financial details.

WhatsApp Pay could allow users to save their credit or debit card details as well as other private banking information. Who’s to say this information will not become part of the numerous Facebook data leaks we’ve seen in the recent past. Lest we forget that just a few weeks back, the smartphone of the world’s richest man was reportedly hacked through WhatsApp.

Facebook would really need to turn up the security on its platform if it wants WhatsApp Pay to succeed. Else, it could have an even bigger scandal than Cambridge Audio Analytica on its hands.

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