Beginning in 2022, WhatsApp Payments is now widely available in India and other supported markets, marking a huge step forward for the Facebook-owned company as it looks to expand beyond its messaging capabilities and prepares to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities.
Here’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp’s aspirational payments feature.
WhatsApp’s push to launch a payments service in India dates back to 2018. In February 2018, WhatsApp received approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for a pilot test of its payments service, which saw the company roll out the service to one million users.
But it soon came to an abrupt halt as the company was embroiled in a two-year long organizational battle. One of the demands made by the regulators was to comply with the Reserve Bank of India’s data storage guidelines, which require all Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to store users’ financial data within Indian territory.
RBI has asked NPCI to conduct a large-scale rollout of WhatsApp Pay until the company meets these requirements.
WhatsApp initially resisted compliance but realizing there was no way around it, the company agreed to comply with the data localization requirements needed to receive the green light for the rollout.
WhatsApp Deloitte appointed a third-party CERT-In auditor, to review its compliance, who submitted its report to NPCI on May 29, 2020, stating that WhatsApp is fully compliant with RBI’s data localization standards.
NPCI then gave formal approval to WhatsApp and its payments service provider, ICICI Bank, to go live on UPI in a phased manner, with the feature made available to a maximum of 20 million users in the first wave.
In November 2021, WhatsApp received the green light to expand the service to an additional 20 million users. This brings the total number of users who can access WhatsApp Pay to 40 million, which is a tiny number considering that WhatsApp has more than 400 million strong users in India.
In which countries is the service of sending money via WhatsApp available?
Unlike other WhatsApp features that are available globally, the Payments feature is currently only available in three countries: India, the United States, and Brazil.
In India, WhatsApp Pay uses the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform. While in Brazil the feature is powered by Facebook Pay, payments are processed by credit and debit card operator Cielo.
In the US, WhatsApp users can send and receive money through Novi Wallet.
Novi is a digital wallet from WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta. It allows users to transfer money via a stablecoin called Pax Dollar (USDP) that is backed by US dollars (for example, 1 USDP equals 1 USD).
How to activate the money transfer service
You must have the latest version of WhatsApp for Android or iOS.
Your WhatsApp number should be the same number linked to your bank account as well. Even if you do not have a UPI account with the bank. You will also be able to take advantage of the in-app service, which creates a new account (UPI).
How to activate the service on your account
Open the WhatsApp application, then go to Settings by clicking on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner, then click on Payments
Select the option to add a new payment method. Then click OK.
Choose your bank, which is your main (UPI) account.
After selecting your bank, you will need to verify your phone number. Click Verify via SMS.
Wait for the verification process to finish. Once done, you will see all the accounts associated with the phone number, choose the account you wish to use. Then your bank details will be added.
How to send and receive money via WhatsApp
You can transfer with great ease, after activating the service on your account, as the payments option will appear in the conversation, and sending and receiving becomes very easy.
Select the contact you want to send money to.
Inside the conversation, click on the attachment icon.
Click on the payment option, and select the amount to send (you can also add a note).
Enter your UPI PIN to complete the payment.
You will see a confirmation message appear directly in the conversation window once the transaction is completed.
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