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WhatsApp's 'full feature' payment service to roll out soon after a successful beta test, NCPI confirms

After a test involving a million users, WhatsApp will roll out its UPI-based payment service for all users in India, according to the National Payments Corp of India.

Reuters reports that the NCPI has all but confirmed the launch of the payment service which will be powered by BHIM United Payments Interface (UPI). The full feature will be released after the beta test is successful.

WhatsApp has been testing the service on limited users in the country. The beta service used user’s phone numbers that are linked to their bank accounts to allow payments. Once official, it will be the global debut of money transfer by the Facebook-owned Instant Messaging app.

NCPI said four banks will join the UPI model, but for now, ICICI bank is processing the fund transfers for beta testers.

With a 200 million user base in India, WhatsApp’s entry into the payments space will likely threaten established players like Paytm, Mobikwik and the likes. Google also started payments service called Tez last year to compete with local players.

“NPCI has given its consent to roll out WhatsApp BHIM UPI beta launch with limited user base of 1 million and low per transaction limit. Four banks will join the multi-bank BHIM UPI model in phases (in the coming weeks) and full feature product shall be released after the beta test is successful. Multi-bank model offer advantages such as transaction load distribution between banks and helps to integrate popular apps easily with BHIM UPI,” NCPI said in a statement.

Per a report by BGR India, Paytm, one of the largest payment service provider in the country, has raised concerns about WhatsApp’s implementation of the payment service including a lack of password protection, no option of logging out and more. Essentially, Paytm believes WhatsApp’s service is more tuned towards usability over security.

The feature will start rolling out in a few days and will be interesting to see how it will affect the digital payments atmosphere in India.

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