June 1: Facebook isn’t remaining patient to cash in on the growing trend of digital payments in the country. The company is now reportedly pushing for an early launch of the WhatsApp payment services despite the lack of readiness of payment partners in kickstarting the service.
Facebook has been keeping a close watch on the developments of digital payment services in India, and the apparent competition in the field is believed to have triggered the current move. Reportedly, WhatsApp’s partners are not yet ready to roll out the service on a broader basis, but Facebook is accelerating the process to get it launched as early as next week.
WhatsApp is said to have partnered with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank for the in-app payment services. Reports also suggest that state-led SBI has also been roped in as one of the partners. All the aforesaid banks have been associated with Google for its payment service through Tez app.
WhatsApp initially piloted the payment feature back in February, during when the test was limited to one million persons owing to the restrictions put forward by NPCI. With the upcoming launch, every WhatsApp user will have the payment option available so that money can be transferred within the chat window and without any hustle.
It’s certain that WhatsApp will pose a major threat to existing payment services like Tez and PayTM, given the broader user base and the ease of money transfer. WhatsApp has a user base of over 200 million in the country, which is far bigger than the count on PayTM. With payment services being made available inside the platform, we can expect users to make use of the service for money exchange rather than switching the app for having the task done.
The entry might not appear smooth although. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the CEO of Paytm, had earlier accused Facebook for not obliging to rules and regulations with the payment services, alleging that the company was preferring convenience over security.
Security concerns although are yet to be judged, as WhatsApp hasn’t yet rolled out the service out of beta. However, NPCI CEO Dilip Asbe recently said that he there were no concerns about data security on the services offered by WhatsApp. We still would have to wait to see the security offerings and also how it will shake up the payment space in India.