WhatsApp will initially be able to offer UPI payment services to 10 million users in India and will then be rolled out to all users.

WhatsApp Pay gets official approval for launch across India
Atom Digital Payments Friday, February 07, 2020 - 11:01

After nearly two years of talks with the government, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has finally secured a nod from the National Payments Corporation of India to launch its digital payments platform ‘WhatsApp Pay’

Facebook first introduced WhatsApp Pay in February 2018 as a trial run for select users (nearly a million) in partnership with ICICI Bank. However, it couldn’t officially roll out the service as it didn’t receive the required regulatory nod from the government.

The main contention was compliance with data localisation norms, which delayed the launch until now. The government wanted WhatsApp is store all of its data locally.

According to a Business Standard report, NPCI has now given WhatsApp a licence to roll out its digital payments service in a phased manner. This comes days after RBI too, gave the payment service a nod.

As per the report, WhatsApp will initially be able to offer UPI payment services to 10 million users in the country. Once the company receives a nod for all other compliance points, it will be able to roll out the service to all users.

An official roll out of WhatsApp Pay could come as a major blow to existing services such as Google’s Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe and Amazon Pay. With over 400 million users already on its platform, WhatsApp has a massive userbase already at its disposal.

In an earnings calls with analysts on Q4 results in January, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had indicated that WhatsApp Pay would be rolled out in six months’ time.

“One example that we've been working on is WhatsApp Payments where you're going to be able to send money as quickly and easily as sending a photo… I'm really excited about this, and I expect this to start rolling out in a number of countries and for us to make a lot of progress here in the next six months,” he said.

UPI payments have become extremely popular, thanks to the ease of use. According to a recent report by Razorpay, UPI payments made up for 50.49% of all digital transactions in October 2019. Currently Google Pay leads the pack with over 67 million monthly active users (as of September 2019) and clocked transactions worth over $110 billion on an annualised basis.