WhatsApp's payment gateway WhatsApp Pay has been on its Beta tests for almost two years and Facebook has been struggling to launch it in India for quite some time now. However, the Facebook-owned messaging application is reportedly launching its payments option in partnership with three private banks in India in the coming months.
According to a Money Control report, WhatsApp Pay will be available for all users in India by May-end. Initially, the option will be available for ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank. However, the country's largest public sector bank, the State Bank of India (SBI), will be added at a later stage, the report added. All the four banks were a part of the integration process while WhatsApp Pay was in its beta testing mode, which started with ICICI Bank.
"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-19 as it is a safer way to transact for our 400 million users in India," WhatsApp spokesperson told Moneycontrol.
According to the report, WhatsApp's two-year delay even after getting restricted testing clearance from the National Payments Corporation of India was mainly because the company faced multiple legal and regulatory hurdles. The report also added that the issue of the data localisation guidelines released by the Reserve Bank of India in April 2018, was also a hindrance.
WhatsApp's UPI-based WhatsApp Pay service has been in a test mode in India since February, 2018 albeit the service being accessible to select users. However, the service was available to other users gradually. To activate the service, all the user had to do was initiate a payment to generate a UPI code.
The Facebook-owned social messaging app has more than 400 million users in India and more than 2 billion users worldwide. With these many subscribers to the app, India is the largest market for the app currently. For this reason, the upcoming WhatsApp Pay service is touted to be hit among the users in terms of digital transactions. In this manner WhastApp Pay aims to take on already established digital payment gateways in the country, mainly Google Pay and Paytm.
Recently, Facebook bought a 9.9% stake in Reliance Jio for ₹43,574 crore. The partnership between Facebook and Jio is unprecedented in many ways. This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest FDI in the technology sector in India.