Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp’s digital payments application WhatsApp Pay is off to a slow start in India after it received the approval of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) last month to launch services in the country in a graded manner.
For November, WhatsApp Pay’s first month on NPCI’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) network, it had less than 1% of the total market share in terms of the total volume of transactions.
It is to be noted that WhatsApp, which has 400 Mn monthly active users in India, has been allowed to onboard users on its payments application in a graded manner. For the first phase of WhatsApp Pay’s launch, the company has been allowed to onboard not more than 20 Mn users, to prevent overload of the UPI infrastructure.
WhatsApp’s payments application got the NPCI nod last month to launch its services after nearly two years of regulatory issues, during which time, the company had been beta testing its product. WhatsApp has announced its intentions of extending facilities for micro-credit in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities through WhatsApp Pay.
According to TOI, which first reported the development, WhatsApp Pay is expected to have recorded 20 Mn transactions in the last month.
“They (WhatsApp) are scaling it slowly and it is yet to hit the maximum limit of users allowed in the first phase,” a person aware of the matter said. Currently, WhatsApp Pay is only offering peer-to-peer transactions, while peer-to-merchant transactions are yet to be enabled.
Overall, UPI recorded 2.2 Bn transactions in November, a 7% increase from its October tally of 2.1 Bn transactions, data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) showed.
UPI is currently dominated by Flipkart-owned PhonePe and Google Pay, both of which have 42% and 41% market share respectively. The remaining share is split majorly between Paytm and Mobikwik.
To prevent the UPI payments ecosystem from becoming a duopoly, dominated by few big players and restricting entry for the rest, NPCI had last month released new norms, mandating a 30% cap on the market share for each of the third-party payment apps (TPAPs), in terms of the total volume of transactions.
Existing players, such as Google Pay and PhonePe, have been given two years starting January 2021 to comply with the new norms in a graded manner. For new players, such as WhatsApp Pay, the new norms would be applicable from January 2021.