WhatsApp approved for launching digital payment services in India

In a significant development that sees Facebook gaining entry into India’s booming digital payment space, WhatsApp has been granted approval to role its payments service in India.

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.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook has been trying since long to comply with Indian data regulations rules, including ones which require that all payment related data 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,” said the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in a statement.

Set up in 2008, the NPCI is a not-for-profit company which counts over 50 banks as its shareholders, including HSBC, State Bank of India, and Citibank.

Online transactions, e-wallet services and lending have gained increased traction in India following a government led push to make the country’s merchants and consumers adopt digital transactions.

According to the NPCI website, UPI processed more than 1.8 billion transactions in September, up from over 1.6 billion from the previous month.

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