WhatsApp has introduced a new payment feature in India but is still in the beta testing stage. This would allow people to send money to other WhatsApp users, but excluding the merchants’ accounts. Right now, this is also not widely available and is the reason why hasn’t been publicly announced.
The company has been working on support for a payments feature for some time now, which would take advantage of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and also include support by a number of Indian banks, listing State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank.
Beta testers have now found that this functionality is live, with a large list of supported banks displayed in the WhatsApp user interface.
According to this new system, users who have gained access to the new functionality would see a payments feature to appear in their WhatsApp Settings menu.
— Nagender Rao Savanth (@nagenderraos) February 7, 2018
After this, users would then must configure the feature by first verifying their phone number via SMS and choosing a bank. The option to send a payment is then available from the main WhatsApp interface, in the same area where users would be able to share a photo, video, file, contact or location into the chat session.
I got yesterday pic.twitter.com/oiQlNRQbBX
— Nagender Rao Savanth (@nagenderraos) February 8, 2018
However, other reports also stated that the Facebook-owned company had received approval from the Indian government to integrate UPI into its messaging service last July in order to implement payments.
However, now the point remains that this addition has put WhatsApp into competition with other messaging services that have already supported payments, including the recently launched Tez from Google and Tencent-backed Hike, as well as digital wallet platform Paytm, which expanded into messaging in order to take on WhatsApp more directly.
However, in spite of these, the potential for WhatsApp to dominate Indian P2P payments is much stronger, given that millions of people have come online in the region thanks to lower-cost data plans and cheap smartphones. Nothing as of now is heard about the launch but WhatsApp would definitely let users know when P2P payments would become more widely available in India after the best testing phase gets completed.