WhatsApp has received approval to roll out its payments service in India starting with 20 million users, the country’s flagship payments processor said on Thursday, giving the Facebook-owned app an entry into a crowded digital payments space.
WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users in India, its biggest market, will compete with Alphabet Inc’s Google Pay, Softbank- and Alibaba-backed Paytm and Walmart’s PhonePe.
The Menlo Park, California-based firm had for long been trying to comply with Indian regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally.
“WhatsApp can expand its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) user base in a graded manner starting with a maximum registered user base of 20 million,” the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said in a statement.
Set up in 2008, the NPCI is a not-for-profit company which counts over 50 banks as its shareholders, including the State Bank of India, Citibank and HSBC.
Online transactions, lending and e-wallet services have been growing rapidly in India, led by a government push to make the country’s cash-loving merchants and consumers adopt digital payments.
UPI processed over 1.8 billion transactions in September, up from over 1.6 billion the previous month, according to data on the NPCI website.