WhatsApp Payments could be coming soon to more countries in the next six months, is what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed in an investor earnings calls after the company announced its fourth quarter results for 2019. The announcement comes even as there’s no clarity on the status of WhatsApp Payments in India.
In 2018, WhatsApp started beta-testing for its WhatsApp Payments in India, which was based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It was allowed to do the testing with one million users. But WhatsApp Payments has never formally launched in India, and remains in the beta-testing phase.
A large part of this delay has over data compliance issues and privacy concerns, and Facebook has itself not given any update on the exact timeline by when it plans to launch this service.
In the investor earnings calls, Zuckerberg has said that he expects to see more progress on the issue in the next six months, though he did not specify if and when WhatsApp Payments would launch in India within this same period.
In the Q4, 2019, investor earnings call, the Facebook CEO said on WhatsApp Payments, “We got approval to test this with 1 million people in India back in 2018. And when so many of the people kept using it week after week, we knew it was going to be big when we get to launch. I’m really excited about this, and I expect this to start rolling out in a number of countries and for us to make a lot of progress here in the next 6 months.”
Zuckerberg also mentioned India’s UPI and how they plan to use such existing national systems to build global payment systems. Facebook plans to have a multi-pronged approach to payments across platforms, such as Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shopping, Messenger and WhatsApp, etc.
The Facebook CEO also revealed that WhatsApp Payments will be part of Facebook Pay. The basic idea is that if a user were to pay for something across any of the Facebook family of apps, they would only need to enter their credit card once, which would be saved with Facebook Pay.
He also made it clear that when it comes to payments, for Instagram and Facebook, a lot of the products would be designed for more developed countries. “For WhatsApp, it’s the biggest countries on WhatsApp. So that’s countries like India and Mexico and Brazil and Indonesia, which will make up a large part of the community on WhatsApp,” the Facebook CEO said.
In India, WhatsApp has close to 400 million users, and if Payments were to launch it could pose a threat to other players in the market. However, rivals like Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, all of which support UPI-based transactions are currently dominating the market.
But the payments service had face a lot of delay in India. In August last year, it was reported that WhatsApp was in the final stages of getting regulatory approval from the RBI regarding the payments feature. In November 2019, Zuckerberg in the earnings call indicated they planned to roll out the service soon, but that has not happened so far.
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