WhatsApp is beta testing a money transfer feature in India with the intention of launching a “full feature product”, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) announced.
The service uses customers’ phone numbers linked to bank accounts to enable payments and is WhatApp’s first foray into money transfers.
India is one of WhatsApp’s biggest markets, with more than 200 million users. The beta launch will have “a limited user base of 1 million and low per transaction limit,” the NCPI statement said, adding four banks will be involved to help with transaction load distribution between banks.
Currently, India’s third-biggest lender ICICI Bank processes fund transfers on WhatsApp, Reuters reported.
India’s mobile payments market is becoming increasingly competitive. News of WhatsApp’s payment feature comes at the same time as Google’s Tez payment service in the country gets a major update allowing users to pay utility and other bills.
The biggest platform in India is a homegrown one – Paytm. Backed by Alibaba and SoftBank, the company is worried about WhatsApp’s service.
According to media reports, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma said WhatsApp parent Facebook “is openly colonising our payment system and is customising UPI to their benefit.”