WhatsApp may launch its much awaited payment feature by the end of February this year – thus providing the biggest boost so far to digital payments in India. The Facebook-owned messaging company is currently integrating its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with prominent banks in the country such as HDFC, State Bank of India, ICICI and Axis bank.
WhatApp had obtained the green signal from the government to integrate with the UPI in July 2017. According to Economic Times, the feature is already in beta (testing) stages with one of the partner banks; depending on its performance during the trials, the service will be made available to the users. In the face of frequent reports of Aadhaar data leaks, the feature is undergoing rigorous security checks to ensure safety of user’s bank data. One of the senior bankers involved in the integration process told ET, “To be able to send money as easily as a text message involves ensuring various levels of encryption to keep the data safe.”
Once functional, WhatsApp will join the likes of Google Tez, PhonePe, Paytm, and the government’s BHIM app (Bharat Interface for Money). Being the most widely used social messaging app in India, it is expected to bring a large section of the previously inaccessible population of the country under the digital payment ecosystem.
UPI emerged as one of the fastest growing interfaces for performing online transactions following the demonetisation drive in November 2016.
Sources: Times Now, Economic Times
Following accusations that its employees have been laundering black money, Axis Bank announced that it will temporarily suspend some bullion dealers’ accounts.
The Enforcement Directorate last week had arrested two employees of Axis Bank for helping launderers convert their unaccounted money by buying gold.
A bank spokesperson said to Reuters,” The suspicion is that if the bullion trade was linked to some of these accounts in a few branches, the same could be the case in other branches of the bank. Consequently, the bank has suspended accounts across the trade. Honest bullion dealers are paying the price for the mala fide acts of a few.”
Many dealers from Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi and Ahmedabad have confirmed to Reuters that their accounts have been frozen.
Axis Bank is the nation’s largest gold importer and the move has been announced as a part of ‘enhanced due diligence’ in order to curb efforts to legalise unaccounted money or wealth post the November 8 demonetization decision of the Modi government.
As per Economic Times reports, Axis Bank has frozen accounts of dealers and of those suspected to be dealing in gold with unusually large numbers post the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from circulation. This resulted in many people rushing to buy gold much above premium to convert their unaccounted money.
The bank has said that the frozen accounts will only be restored once it is finished with its enhanced due diligence process.
SOURCES: Reuters, Economic Times
IMAGE SOURCE: Bullion People