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Update: WhatsApp denies reports that UPI feature is fully live in India

Whatsapp payments UPI 2

Update:  WhatsApp has denied reports that its UPI feature is fully live in India, and said that the feature is still running in beta version. An Entrackr report had earlier incorrectly reported that WhatsApp has launched its UPI feature for all of its users in India, and it used the feature successfully.

In a statement shared with MediaNama, WhatsApp said that,

WhatsApp has not rolled out payments to all of India. In fact, we are still in our beta testing period. We do not have a launch date set…

We regret not having independently verified this development before reporting on the same. We will be more careful in the future and ensure such mistakes do not occur.

Earlier: WhatsApp has finally rolled out its UPI feature for all the users, reports Entrackr. The instant messaging platform has apparently allowed users to send UPI payment to invite to other WhatsApp users.

To start using this feature, users need to link their bank and verify One Time Password (OTP) sent to mobile number registered with the bank. We tried using the feature for hands-on review, but could not do it due to an error.

According to Entrackr, WhatsApp currently allows transaction of up to Rs 5000, however, this is not the case with other UPI-enable payments apps. Users can also make QR based payments. Note that National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) mandates that every UPI application should be able to scan BharatQR codes and respond to merchant payment requests.  The NPCI is the bank-owned organization that runs the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

WhatsApp had launched its payments pilot in February to limited users. However, it attracted criticism during the pilot for lack of interoperability and alleged disruption of an ‘open’ system.   The full launch of WhatsApp Payments is reportedly delayed by two weeks over concerns like Facebook compliance with data privacy and the RBI’s mandate on data storage.

Following the launch, incumbent payment services in India felt WhatsApp was playing by its own rules. Most vocal among them was the PayTM CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma. In an interview with CNBC Sharma said, “WhatsApp is killing India’s ‘beautiful, open UPI system’, and that it has gotten preferential access to UPI. He says that “it does not allow transactions to non-WhatsApp UPI handles, UPI handles created via other apps, does not include passwords and logins, and QR code scanning. Everyone else has 3 factors of authentication: login, password and then UPI pin. WhatsApp doesn’t have login and password.”

WhatsApp payments: A serious competitor

With 200 million monthly active user base in India, WhatsApp’s UPI payment may offer serious competition to other players like Google Tez, Paytm, the Flipkart owned PhonePe, BHIM, and Mobikwik among others. In May, Mobikwik became the latest mobile wallet to add UPI-based payments on its platform.

There were 189.5 million UPI transactions in May 2018, with Rs 33,288.5 crore being transacted. The government-supported UPI app BHIM processed only 7.5% of all UPI transactions and accounted for 17.3% of the amount transacted in May. In April, BHIM had processed only 6.6% of all UPI transactions and accounted for 18.4% of the amount transacted in April. In February, PhonePe said accounted for 16% of all UPI transactions, whereas Paytm claimed that it accounted for 40% of all UPI transactions.

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