In yet another delay to the launch of WhatsApp payments Service, the government has said that the company can’t launch WhatsApp Pay till it sets up an office and recruits a team in India.
The warning was issued when earlier in the month WhatsApp team of executives led by chief operating officer Matt Idema had met officials from the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY).
At the same time, the government may also seek Reserve Bank of India’s intervention with regards to payment solutions controlled remotely violate rules on setting up such financial services in India.
The big update comes as the company removed the sentence that it was testing a “beta product” while offering payment service to a limited set of users in the country.
In its policy statement, WhatsApp has listed out the terms and conditions that regulate the Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based payments service it’s providing in partnership with banks.
“The user of this HDFC Bank UPI facility should have his mobile number registered with the bank and should have existing relationship with his/her bank for availing this facility/service, using HDFC Bank UPI facility,” read the policy statement regarding HDFC Bank and then goes on to explain the terms and conditions under which consumers will be able to use the UPI facility of HDFC Bank.
A similar paragraph with terms and conditions for Axis Bank has been updated as well. It has also listed out the terms and conditions imposed by banks on customers for availing such services.
“The user limits on WhatsApp are still applicable and they have not gone out of the beta stage, we understand that they are testing their integrations with other banks through their employees and is not open for the public yet,” said a senior banker working on WhatsApp Pay in India.
Earlier, in May when WhatsApp was speculated to launch its payments service, Inc42 had reported that WhatsApp Pay has partnered with ICICI, HDFC and Axis. The integration comes in line with the previous development.
Once the other banks go live on WhatsApp Payments, users might be offered handles of those banks as well.
The development comes at the time when WhatsApp’s venture into Indian payments industry continues to be delayed.
Inc42 had recently reported that the ministry has asked WhatsApp and its partner banks to supply more details on the payments system. Also, it has asked the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to confirm whether WhatsApp is fully compliant with its requirements.
The Facebook-subsidiary has been trying to combat fake news and recently met the Election Commission and assured it that it would make all possible efforts to curb circulation of fake news on WhatsApp during the upcoming elections in India.
Credit Suisse had predicted in a report that India’s digital payments industry, which is currently worth around $200 Bn, is expected to grow five-fold to reach $1 Tn by 2023.
Even as WhatsApp user base of more than 200 Mn users in India seems to give it an edge in the industry against players like Paytm, PhonePe etc, the continuous delay and regulatory hurdles pay put it in a difficult spot.
[The development was reported by ET.]