WhatsApp will now be able to roll out its UPI payments platform, WhatsApp Pay, across India in a phased manner after securing the license from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Business Standard reported. This approval reportedly comes a few days after RBI’s assent. In the first phase, WhatsApp will be able to offer payments services to 10 million Indian users, according to the report. NPCI and WhatsApp have declined to comment, and we are awaiting a response from RBI.
WhatsApp has reportedly agreed to comply with RBI’s data localisation norms, which was a key reason for the delay in the launch of WhatsApp Pay. In November 2019, the RBI had told the Supreme Court that it would not allow a full-scale launch of WhatsApp Pay on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) until it complies with the data localisation norms. In May 2019, WhatsApp had told the Supreme Court that it would not launch payment services in India without fully complying with the norms of RBI.
During earnings call with investors just last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “WhatsApp Payments will be a part of Facebook Pay”. It wasn’t clear if he meant that for India as well since Facebook Pay isn’t offered in India. Moreover, Indian authorities had reportedly expressed concerns about WhatsApp’s payment services as the service could share user data with Facebook and Instagram, which would hamper the security and privacy of its subscribers.
WhatsApp Pay has been running in beta mode since February 2018, with the number of users capped at one million. The service, which is based on the UPI standard developed by NPCI, started its beta mode in partnership with ICICI Bank.