Home / Technology / News /  WhatsApp payments feature sees tepid response from users

WhatsApp Pay, which was launched in India last month, has started off slowly with only 310,000 unified payments interface (UPI) transactions in November, according to data from the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI).

One reason for the lukewarm response to Whatsapp Pay was its limited availability, with many of the 400 million active users in India not getting the feature at the same time. However, experts said with incentives, such as cashbacks and more merchant-centric features, the Facebook-owned company can make headway in a market that is largely dominated by pure payment apps such as PhonePe, Paytm and Google Pay.

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NPCI has put a 30% cap on UPI transactions to reduce the monopoly of Google Pay and PhonePe, which in November recorded 960 million and 868 million transactions, respectively. However, experts believe WhatsApp still has a long way to go.

“Many users still do not know that WhatsApp has payments capability. As users start interacting with businesses and when businesses start sending payment request via UPI, gradually we will see transactions grow on WhatsApp too," said Arnav Gupta, analyst, Forrester Research.

Using the payment feature in WhatsApp is a unique experience in itself. Unlike standalone payment apps, it is integrated in a chat window. “Many people don’t open WhatsApp with the intention of making payments, unlike Paytm and Google Pay where you naturally go to make payments," said Faisal Kawoosa, co-founder and chief analyst, techARC.

However, some feel that payment being an integrated feature of the app has its own use case and that gives WhatsApp an edge over others.

“Many merchants are already using WhatsApp from a transaction point of view for sharing product photos and videos with customers. The payment in such cases is made through third-party apps like Paytm," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder and chief executive officer, Greyhound Research.

For the B2B and B2C business it is critical for WhatsApp to have a large fleet on the street, Gogia pointed out. Platforms such as Paytm have a large fleet of people on the ground who are educating and helping merchants set up online stores.

“Level of technology education on ground is dismal. Though people use WhatsApp they need more confidence to setup a WhatsApp Business store and do transactions on it," he said.

WhatsApp chose not to comment on Mint’s queries.


Abhijit Ahaskar

Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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