Soon after deciding that it was going to use UPI to allow peer-to-peer transactions within its 200 million strong user base, WhatsApp has sought permission from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to start working on the feature. Soon after, we learned that it was going to partner with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and SBI to launch the feature.
Waiting for its partners to have necessary systems in place for a launch, WhatsApp in February released the payments system in a Beta update to check its stability. This Beta rollout, however, was limited to very few users and did not actually allow any transactions to happen as it was still in its test phase.
It was only two months later in April when certain users noticed a new 'Request money' feature being introduced through an invite system which immediately let users set up their UPI-based payments profile and start sending money.
The tech2 team managed to get hold of an invite and we tried the feature on both iOS as well as Android and it seemed quite straightforward.
Once you receive the invite, hit the '+' icon on iOS app or the attach icon on Android to see the 'Payments' option show up. This option can also be accessed in the settings menu.
The setup process is quite simple, once the user accepts the terms and conditions of UPI, WhatsApp generates a list of banks that it has partnered with or plans to partner with in the future. Before selecting the bank you want to set up your UPI ID with, the only prerequisite is that the phone number which is linked to your WhatsApp account needs to be the same number linked to your bank account as well.
Once that is ensured, WhatsApp will be automatically able to fish out the account number linked to your phone number and will then ask you to set up a UPI ID. If you have one then you'll just need to enter you VPA and verify your debit card and you are set.
WhatsApp does not add an extra layer of security like Google does with its Tez payments app, but you do need to verify each payment using your UPI pin. Once set up, all you need to do is enter an amount and verify it using the UPI ID and the amount will be credited to the recipient's account.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is yet to announce anything officially yet, but with pressure from competitors Paytm and Google Tez, Facebook may go ahead and announce a widespread roll-out by next week, despite SBI's systems not really ready yet.