WhatsApp has announced it will launch an in-app payment service later this year, with the service to initially be rolled out in India.
A pilot trial of the payments service that is conducted on UPI standards is already underway, Whatsapp told ZDNet, with the goal behind the new service being to “make it as easy to pay someone as it is to send a message”.
“Payments services are critical to accelerating financial inclusion and bringing millions more people into India’s fast-growing digital economy. We can’t wait to provide this service to our users across India this year,” Will Cathcart, global head of WhatsApp said on Wednesday.
The rollout of WhatsApp Payments is likely to follow a similar route to the platform’s five-message forwarding cap feature, which was also initially rolled out to India.
The forwarding cap underwent a six-month trial in India, in response to rumours of child kidnappers being spread on the app that resulted in mob lynchings around the country, before it was rolled out to the rest of the world.
The announcement of WhatsApp Payments comes at an interesting time, as WhatsApp’s holding company Facebook is currently facing scrutiny from lawmakers across the world for its attempted foray into the financial services sector through its proposed cryptocurrency Libra.
US lawmakers have labelled Facebook’s attempt at entering into financial services troubling due to its “pattern of failing to keep consumer data private”, especially following revelations that the social network allowed over 50 million of its users’ data to be harvested in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Meanwhile, Libra is unlikely to be available for trading in India as cryptocurrency was essentially banned last year.
Whatsapp currently has over 1.5 billion daily active users and over 400 million monthly users in India.