Just close to the second anniversary of pilot-trials in the US, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is all set to roll out its Pay feature in India in phases. The news arrived after the ace payment regulation body, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), granted the required permit. As per the current reports, WhatsApp Pay will be rolled out in a phased manner. It is expected to reach around 10 million users from India in its first phase.
The NPCI approval came just after the Reserve Bank of India gave a NOC to the feature. Talking about the data localization regulations, WhatsApp will be complying as per the directions of the RBI and NPCI. Notably, the same data localization norms were a significant hurdle in the process as the GOI was firm on its stand regarding the said regulations.
The full rollout by the messaging platform will be based upon WhatsApp’s will and ability to fulfill the RBI compliance requirements. The biggest hitch in the approval from RBI and NPCI was compliance policies around data localization norms. WhatsApp was resistant to the government’s stand and this led to delay in implementation.
The phase-wise rollout is also somewhere related to its vast customer base in India. As of now, the technical and IT infrastructure is not in the frame to handle such amounts of operational data all of a sudden, and hence, they are willing to take things slow. An official said that the WhatsApp Pay shares minimal similarity with the other payment apps in India, though the former is also based on UPI, which was developed by NPCI.
UPI was a revolutionary step in the world of digital payments as users can now perform financial transactions electronically without having to enter their sensitive bank data. As of now, different payment apps that are available in India are GPay, PhonePe, Paytm, and BHIM. Amongst them, the GPay currently gets the lion’s share, which is speculated to be replaced by WhatsApp Pay after its full rollout.
WhatsApp had already started the trial runs in India in partnership with ICICI Bank, as it was waiting for the final go-ahead from NPCI and RBI. The final nod from RBI came after a third-party security audit in October 2019. Speculations regarding WhatsApp Pay overtaking all its competitors after the full phase rollout are already making rounds, and the direct battle between GPay and WhatsApp Pay will be an exciting thing to see.
However, there have been no official statements from either WhatsApp or NPCI regarding the approval. But while briefing during an earnings call, Zuckerberg had endorsed that WhatsApp Pay will take six more months to be launched in a number of countries.
“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,” said Zuckerberg
In the absence of confirmation from official sources, another news regarding the filing of an application in the Supreme Court is making rounds. The petition states that Whatsapp trials over 1 million Indians have reduced them to guinea pigs and they are looking for stoppage of WhatsApp Pay trials.
WhatsApp, the messaging app that was acquired by Facebook in 2014, has more than 400 million active users in the country!