Sharma claims that Facebook is openly colonising the country’s payment system and is customising UPI to their benefit.

Paytms Vijay Shekhar Sharma cries foul over WhatsApps payments foray in India
Atom Digital Payments Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 22:38

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, the largest digital payments company in the country, is currently an unhappy man and the reason for this is Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s foray into payments. 

According to a report in Economic Times, Sharma claims that an unfair playing field has been accorded to WhatsApp by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). He has said that he will approach NPCI and other higher authorities to highlight the issue.

“India must welcome global tech companies. It must not let them colonise our Internet. Their ambitions and intentions are clear in last few weeks,” he said on Twitter.

One of the issues is the fact that the trial launched by WhatsApp doesn’t require a log-in session, making it highly unsafe and a security risk given the reach WhatsApp has in India.

“Facebook is openly colonising our payment system and is customising UPI to their benefit. UPI was built as an India Stack, now some American monopoly arm-twists UPI for customer implementation,” ET quotes Sharma as saying.

WhatsApp began its pilot with a few lakh customers, which also Sharma claims should have been a smaller number.

The payments landscape in India has gained steam over the last few months with the entry of large, deep-pocketed players such as Amazon, Google’s Tez and now, WhatsApp.

Interestingly, Paytm is backed by large foreign investors such as Chinese internet giant Alibaba and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. ET reports that Sharma clarified to this saying he is merely asking for a level-playing field and is not against multinationals.

Unlike Sharma, rivals such as Mobikwik don’t seem to share the same views. Bipin Preet Sing, co-founder of Mobikwik took to twitter expressing criticism of Sharma’s stance of businesses getting undue advantage.

“There is clear record of private companies who got access first and exclusively when UPI was launched. Those complaining about Whatsapp are the same folks who refuse to entertain neutral payment options (like MobiKwik) on their own ecommerce websites/apps and instead promote only captive wallets. A standard of interoperability should include wallet acceptance as well. To me, the funniest and most ironic aspect of all this UPI stuff is that no one is talking about our poor banks. With UPI, banks wanted to compete with wallets. I wonder if they’ve already ceded too much control to non-banks. The story repeats,” he said in a series of tweets.