The National Payments Corporation of India, the payments body that oversees the widely popular UPI instrument, has given approval to WhatsApp to extend its payments service to 100 million users in the South Asian market, a person familiar with the matter said. WhatsApp was previously allowed to rollout WhatsApp Pay to 40 million users in the world’s second largest internet market.
WhatsApp initially rolled out its payments service in India in 2020, but the Meta-owned service has struggled to expand the offering to a larger base in India because of unclear and confusing regulatory pushback. The NPCI has instead insisted that WhatsApp rolls out the payments service in step-by-step phases, a person familiar with the matter said.
In a statement, NPCI confirmed that WhatsApp has been approved to rollout the service to an additional 60 million users.
“National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has approved an additional sixty (60) million users on UPI for WhatsApp. With this approval, WhatsApp will be able to expand the service to its hundred (100) million users,” a spokesperson said.
The slow rollout of WhatsApp Pay has allowed the company’s payments rivals to gain wider market share in India. Google Pay and Walmart-backed PhonePe own over 70% of the UPI market share, according to official figures published by the NPCI. In a statement on Wednesday, PhonePe said it processed 100 million daily transactions.
UPI has emerged as the most popular digital payments method in India in recent years, thanks in part to New Delhi’s abrupt move to invalidate more than 85% of the paper cash circulation in the nation in late 2016. UPI’s popularity has diminished the utility of several firms in India, including SoftBank and Alibaba-backed Paytm and Sequoia Capital India-backed MobiKwik that spent years building mobile wallets. Unlike UPI apps, mobile wallets are not interoperable with other mobile wallets and levy a small fee to consumers.
This is a developing story. More to follow…