WhatsApp to introduce UPI payments in February?

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  • Messaging app could implement mobile payment services in India
  • India could become a prominent presence in digital payments ecosystem
  • According to industry speculations, WhatsApp could go live with a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) feature in India as soon as next month. If so, this will be one of the biggest boosts for digital payments in India.


Allegedly, the payments platform is already in beta testing phases. If trials work out successfully, the service could go live in February 2018. It has also been revealed that developers are conducting security checks so it can be safely integrated with banks.

The new WhatsApp feature will support international payments and is highly anticipated in India since the messaging app is incredibly popular there. The development is expected to bring India into the digital payments ecosystem in a prominent way.

Some bankers are not as eager to see the UPI system materialise, however, due to believing that there are various security concerns that need to be addressed before its integration:

"To be able to send money as easily as a text message involves ensuring various levels of encryption to keep the data safe. UPI, by itself, also has a complicated settlement mechanism between various banking partners. These issues need to be attended to before the product goes live."

In terms of the process design, WhatsApp acts as the top layer of the transaction. In the back-end, it will be tasked with identifying important variables such as determining who the sender is and who the receiver is. It will also identify the banks of the customers involved. UPI is the part of the equation responsible for settling transactions.

In December, UPI reported 145 million transactions. It is presently one of the fastest-growing payments instruments. WhatsApp has already surpassed one billion registered users. In India, there are more than 200 million active monthly users.

The popular messaging app could likely repeat the story of China’s WeChat pay, which is another instant messaging app through which users can make money transfers. Currently, WeChat has around 963 million monthly users.

It is possible that the payments made through WhatsApp will be peer-to-peer at first, potentially evolving to merchant payments as time goes on.

Nigel Frith
Nigel Frith
Former Global General Manager
Nigel was the Global General Manager at FXcompared. Nigel has a background in marketing for businesses and consumers as well working in a variety of online financial services roles. Read more

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