WhatsApp Payment feature to further boost digital payment in India

WhatsApp is reportedly testing out a payment feature in India that is expected to boost digital payments. The beta version of WhatsApp’s UPI-based feature has started rolling out to selected users on Android and iOS devices in India.

This new feature is available on WhatsApp version 2.18.21 for iOS, and version 2.18.41 for Android and can be accessed through the attachment menu in a chat window. Clicking on the Payments option will open up another window with a list of banks to choose from.

WhatsApp got approval to integrate UPI, a payment system launched by the National Payments Corporation of India, in July 2017.

Security concerns

WhatsApp’s payment facility is expected to be an instant hit, as the messaging service is widely popular in India.

However, a number of security concerns should be addressed before the feature goes live, and the primary one is with regard to data of customers.

“To be able to send money as easily as a text message involves ensuring various levels of encryption to keep the data safe,” a senior banker involved in the system integration process with WhatsApp told ET. “UPI, by itself, also has a complicated settlement mechanism between various banking partners. These issues need to be attended before the product goes live.”

Digital transactions have been on the upward swing after demonetization in India. Digital transactions reached a record high of 1.11 billion in January from 1.06 billion in December, according to provisional data released on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank of India.

Transactions worth about Rs 131.95 trillion were carried out in January through credit and debit cards, the unified payments interface (UPI), unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) and internet banking. The highest so far was in March, at Rs149.59 trillion.