After Truecaller announced last week that it’s launching a peer-to-peer payments option in association with ICICI Bank in India, it’s Whatsapp that is preparing to launch the service in its app the country, as according to The Ken report.
Meanwhile, TechCrunch too quoted The Ken report and had answer from a Whatsapp official, who neither confirmed, nor denied the developments.
“India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we’re understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India. We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users,” TechCrunch quoted a WhatsApp official as saying in an official statement.
Facebook, which bought Whatsapp for $19 billion in 2014, already has payments option in Messenger in the US. The feature would make sense in Whatsapp in India, considering that the country is its largest market with 200 million monthly active users.
The Ken points out to a job posting on Facebook, seeking out for a Digital Transactions Lead, India, to be posted at Menlo Park, CA. Besides other qualifications, the job demands ‘Knowledge of India and its culture’ and ‘Ability to understand and explain UPI, BHIM, Aadhar number’. Another ‘preferred qualification’ is the ability to read, write and speak in both English and Hindi.
Digital transactions in India saw a surge post demonitization announcement by the Indian government in November last year. This year in February, WhatsApp’s co-founder, Brian Acton, had told local media that WhatsApp was in early stages of investigating digital payments in the country and that he had talked to the Indian government about the matter.
The case for digital economy
The Indian Union budget for FY 2017-18, which starts from April 1, has ambitious plans to push India towards a digital economy:
- A target of 25 billion transactions in FY 2017-18 through e-wallet and digital services like UPI, USSD, Aadhaar Pay, IMPS and debit cards
- Schemes to promote the usage of BHIM (UPI-based Bharat Interface for Money) app. BHIM- the Referral Bonus Scheme for individuals and a Cashback Scheme for merchants
- Merchant version of Aadhaar Enabled Payment System to be launched shortly
- All government receipts — beyond a prescribed limit — to be digital
- Banks have a target to introduce additional 1 million PoS terminals by March 2017. They will be encouraged to introduce 2 million Aadhar-based PoS terminals by September 2017
- Exemption on BCD (basic custom duties), excise duties, CVD (countervailing duties), SAD (special additional duty) on miniaturized card readers and mPOS micro ATM standards for version 1.5.1, finger print readers, scanners and iris scanners
It makes sense for WhatsApp to roll out its P2P payments feature in India first. The app is at least six months away from receiving the feature.