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.