India is WhatsApp’s biggest market.
With 210 million monthly WhatsApp users, India is clearly WhatsApp’s biggest market. Still, in spite of the Facebook messaging app’s so far successful test of WhatsApp payments service in the country, the digital payments system has yet to become a nationwide service.
WhatsApp began testing its payments service back in February of last year.
Since WhatsApp payments began testing in February 2018, the service has processed about a million transactions per month. This is according to people close to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), reported the Financial Times.
The company has reportedly had trouble extending the service across India because the country’s regulators want the payments data to be processed in India and not on Facebook’s servers in California. Although there have been several meetings between WhatsApp’s chief executive and India’s central bank governor all last year, no progress has been made and there is still no agreement in sight.
WhatsApp payments is a natural next step for many small business owners in India.
Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil say they already use WhatsApp to do business. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that enabling retail payments via the app would be a comfortable next step for many of these businesses.
“Today, almost 1m people are testing WhatsApp payments in India. The feedback has been very positive, and people enjoy the convenience of sending money as simply and securely as sending messages,” said Anne Yeh from WhatsApp as quoted by the Financial Times. “We’re working closely with the Indian government, NPCI and multiple banks, including our payment service providers, to . . . support India’s digital economy.”
What’s more, an architect of the UPI system in India and a once employee of the NPCI, Ram Ratogi, says that based on his knowledge of the payments system in India over the past decade, WhatsApp payments will be viral.
“Indians want something they are used to in a language they can read and write in, Ratogi explained. “WhatsApp’s willingness to provide services in 13 major languages in India can play a vital role in taking digitization of payments even to villages.”