Mobile chat platform WhatsApp could be set to roll out peer-to-peer payments service in India within next 6 months. In an interview to Times of india in February, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton had said that the company may enter digital payments and that it is in ‘early stages’ of investigating the segment.
More than 200 million users in the country are using whatsapp and is also the most popular messaging service in India. It is being used in a large way by both small and individuals business owners to interact to their customers.
India’s digital payments scene has seen a huge growth over the last few months. Net value of digital transactions are growing every year, according to this Mint report based on data from India’s central bank. The Indian government in November last year, moved to demonetise old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 to curb black money. This created a shortage of cash money in the market and forced many users to go for digital payments.
India has also built out the Unified Payments Interface(UPI) on top of which many payments apps can be built. Samsung also launched Samsung Pay in India for selected Samsung Galaxy series devices last month, after it partnered up with Axis, HDFC, ICIC, SBI and Standard Chartered banks, and embraced the UPI standard. Apps built on UPI can seamlessly transact between accounts. BHIM, for instance, is one such app launched by India’s Prime Minister in December 2016. As per reports nearly 12.5 million people have downloaded the BHIM app till now.
Most banks and private wallet operators like PhonePe and Paytm also support UPI based payments now.