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WhatsApp’s payment service is now being tested by companies

A handful of companies have joined a million users in testing the beta version of WhatsApp’s yet-to-be-launched payments system, which is meant for peer-to-peer transactions, two months ago, officials working with the company said.

WhatsApp’s payment service has been in the beta mode since last year. The company didn’t respond to an email seeking comments till press time Friday.

“A handful of enterprises are testing it as well. Payments for enterprises is relatively new. This doesn’t mean it will go live and testing doesn’t mean much, given the lack of regulatory clarity on it, but talks with some companies across sectors on payments have been on,” said one of the sources, refusing to be identified.

“If it does take off, then the companies can’t say ‘we will use WhatsApp messaging to remind customers for payments but ask them to pay through our app’. If it is approved, then they will have to make the payments on WhatsApp, instead of waiting for people to download their apps,” another official said.

Over 100 enterprises and companies in the fintech space, online insurance companies, hospitality and travel aggregators are using WhatsApp’s business API to communicate and exchange information with customers.

Between January and June last year, about seven lenders like ICICI Bank, Citibank, Kotak Mahindra, Indus Bank and Axis Bank integrated the WhatsApp API, but only a couple of them went ahead with enterprise messaging on the platform, fearing lack of regulatory clarity. “Banks were gung-ho early last year, but only one or two have gone live with their service. Even for regular messaging, banks are wary of using WhatsApp,” said a source.

The RBI had in April 2018 said that all payment service providers must ensure that data related to systems operated by them should be stored only in India within a six-month deadline.

 

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