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Fuel for India 2021: WhatsApp announces pilot program to bring digital payments to 500 villages

The announcement was made at Fuel For India 2021— Meta’s annual event in India, that showcased socio-economic transformation delivered by Meta and its family of apps.

By: Tech Desk | Pune |
Updated: December 16, 2021 4:01:06 pm
WhatsApp enables financial inclusion across 500 villages of India with ‘Digital Payments Utsav’- a pilot, promoting digital payments. (File Photo)

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp today announced its pilot program of adopting 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra— aiming to empower villagers with access to digital payments through ‘payments on WhatsApp’.

The announcement was made at Fuel For India 2021— Meta’s annual event in India, that showcased socio-economic transformation delivered by Meta and its family of apps.

The pilot program called ‘Digital Payments Utsav’, started on the October 15 in Kyathanahalli village in Mandya district of Karnataka, where on-ground facilitators familiarised villagers with various aspects of digital payments including signing up for UPI, setting up a UPI account and safety best practices of using digital payments.

WhatsApp said that the  its initial results from the pilot program have been encouraging. “Villagers have begun adopting ‘payments on WhatsApp’ as a new mode of payments. The village-grocery store or the beauty-parlour owner and scores of other people and small and medium businesses – are now accepting and receiving payments digitally using ‘payments on WhatsApp’,” the company said in a press release.

“Withdrawing money from banks in villages used to be tedious and time consuming and ATMs also don’t usually have cash. Things have become much easier because of payments on WhatsApp,” said Chidananda KJ, Gram Panchayat member of Kyathanahalli village.

“I’ve been running my parlour for the past ten years,” said Shruthi K, the owner of a beauty salon. “Old customers prefer to pay by cash. I don’t have my own UPI-ID. So when new customers want to pay digitally, I give them my son’s WhatsApp QR code.”

WhatsApp has also recently placed the iconic  symbol in its chat, thus making it recognisable and easy for people across segments to use the digital payments feature. Additionally, the messaging platform has also equipped its main camera to scan QR codes, adding another layer of convenience for users to make payments on WhatsApp, thus enabling in the process access to 20 million QR code-accepting stores in the country.

Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp, said, “We have started this pilot program in 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra as part of our mission to onboard the next 500 million to the digital payments ecosystem. We believe that WhatsApp’s ease of use and reliability can promote the adoption of UPI with users across, including those at the bottom of the pyramid. We will continue to contribute meaningfully in this journey of educating users at the grassroots, so they can trust digital payments, as they gradually make the transition from a ‘cash-only’ way of financial life.”

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