WhatsApp is in talks with Indian banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), to enable bank-to-bank transfers via UPI (Unified Payments Interface). According to a report in Economic Times, the social messaging platform has initiated discussions with National payments Corporation of India (NCPI) as well.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is exploring ways to integrate payment services. Whether payment option will be integrated as an option in the app or will be facilitated via payments gateway page remains to be seen. The report quoted a senior SBI official who said, “We are currently at the ‘proof of concept’ stage, looking at ways to integrate it with our back-end.”
The latest report in in line with a previous report in The Ken (via Mashable) which said that WhatsApp is gearing up to launch its payment services in India. WhatsApp is likely to add support for for UPI as well. UPI lets users transfer funds between two people or a bank account instantly via smartphone.
A WhatsApp spokesperson, in a statement to Indianexpress.com, did not give a clear indication on whether the company is planning to roll out payments solution for its platform in India, but said that it is exploring ways to contribute more to the Digital India initiative.
Launching payments service in India makes sense for WhatsApp, more so because India is one of the largest markets for the company with over 200 million active users. The platform has over 1.2 billion users globally. Users are more aware about online payments thanks to demonetisation. However, integration of payments solutions in WhatsApp could pose a potential threat to rivals like Paytm and MobiKwik given WhatsApp already has a lot more users on its platform.
Meanwhile, Hike Messenger rolled out its UPI-based wallet, in partnership with Yes Bank. It allows for bank-to-bank transfers with friends, irrespective of whether they use Hike or not.