WhatsApp began rolling out its payments service in India, overcoming a long-running battle with local authorities over data storage since launching beta testing of the service in 2018.

Starting today (6 November), the payments feature will be available for users in India with the latest version of the app on iOS and Android.

The service has been built on top of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), requiring transactions to be made in a multi-bank model.

Initially, WhatsApp was given permission to deploy the service “in a graded manner”, starting with a maximum of 20 million registered users, the NPCI said in a statement.

WhatsApp said it already partnered with five banks in India, including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, the State Bank of India and Jio Payments Bank. It added anyone using UPI-supported app can receive money via WhatsApp, and the service had “a strong set of security and privacy principles”.

The company believes the move will increase inclusion of rural areas into the digital economy and deliver financial services to people who lacked access before.

WhatsApp repeatedly tried to bring the service to India in the past, but its plans were halted due to hurdles related to regulations covering data storage.