There have been murmurs about activating payments feature on WhatsApp for a while now. Last year we had seen reports of WhatsApp Beta version testing a UPI payment feature, then there was a report about an in-chat payment systems launch last month and now the speculations have surfaced again.
According to a report in The Economic Times, WhatsApp payments feature could go live as early as next month. Considering the widespread use of WhatsApp in India, 200 million active users, this feature could be that push that digital payments ecosystem needs to make it a lot more mainstream.
WhatsApp is in advanced talks with integrating its unified payments interface (UPI) platform with popular Indian banks such as the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis bank, according to people who spoke to ET on the matter.
The payments feature is being tested and will have to undergo a lot of security clearances before it is rolled out to the public. According to a banker, WhatsApp is at various stages of system integration with the banks. The platform is currently being tested on beta stage with one of the partner banks. According to one source, depending on the how the trials play out, the feature should be released to consumers by the end of February.
There are some challenges to the integration such as ensuring various levels of encryptions are maintained to keep the data safe. According to a banker who spoke to ET, UPI also has complicated settlement systems between various banking partners and these issues have to be resolved before going live.
WhatsApp is expected to be the top layer which will identify the sender and receiver on the back end. As its payment platform will be integrated with the banks, WhatsApp will also identify customer accounts and eventually UPI will help with the settling of the transactions.
Digital transactions in the country have reportedly crossed the 1 billion mark this December after recording nearly 1.06 billion transactions. There was a hike of about 6.5 percent in comparison to November which had 998 million total digital transactions up to that point. There have been around 145 million UPI transactions which took place in December, 104 million in November and 76.7 million in October. Some of the major players which have helped the adoption of UPI include digital wallet apps such as Paytm, Google Tez, PhonePe and Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM).
WhatsApp has already started testing its WhatsApp for Business feature with many users. WhatsApp Business is different from the regular WhatsApp. The logo of the app has been changed from the calling symbol to "B" inside the green conversation bubble.
A Business account with a green checkmark badge in its profile is verified as an authentic brand" by WhatsApp. "A business account with a gray question mark badge in its profile means the account is using the WhatsApp Business app but hasn't been confirmed nor verified by WhatsApp," the company said.
The much-talked-about WhatsApp for Business app is currently being tested by a private group of testers and the company will introduce it as 'WhatsApp Business' — a standalone app.