Facebook's WhatsApp will begin payment services in India on Friday, the messaging app said in a blog post, after receiving approval from the country's leading payment processor to implement the long-awaited system.
WhatsApp which is India's largest market with over 400 million users, has been running a peer-to-peer payment service with a limited number of users for more than two years, pending regulatory approvals.
"Payments are now available on 10 versions of WhatsApp in regional Indian languages." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a video statement.
WhatsApp said it has partnered with five Indian banks, including State Bank of India and Jio Payments Bank for the services.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said on Thursday that WhatsApp will initially start expanding the service with a maximum of 20 million users. All major payers in India use the UPI framework, established by NPCI, for services like peer-to-peer money transfer, utility payments, and phone recharge. UPI processed more than 2.07 billion transactions in October up from 1.8 billion in the previous month, according to NPCI.
WhatsApp will compete with Google Alphabet Inc, Walmart'sPhonePe and Alibaba backed Paytm in the digital payments market in India, which is expected to double in size to $ 135 billion in 2023 from 2019 levels, according to PwC and Indian industry lobby group ASSOCHAM.
Facebook bought a 9.99% stake in Reliance's digital unit earlier this year for $ 5.7 billion, an investment that will give WhatsApp an insider tip on payments from Reliance's retail unit, which it aims to service ten million smaller stores across India.