Report: India Gets Live Beta WhatsApp Mobile Payment Service
It’s been almost a year since Facebook-owned WhatsApp revealed that it was indeed working on a mobile payments service. While WhatsApp was playing this notion rather close to the vest, it threw out one huge curve ball recently, announcing that the service had gone live in a beta version in India.
The payments service is found attached to a chat window as part of the Attachments menu, reports note. Once in that menu, users can then bring in their bank account of choice and connect it to the app via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system that India has eagerly been developing for quite some time. Those who haven’t already used UPI are being asked to create a pin and an account, though
Early reports suggest that there have been some issues connecting bank accounts to the WhatsApp system, but given that this is a beta release, some of this is largely inevitable. WhatsApp is actually running a bit behind its competitors in the field here; both Google and Samsung are already using UPI as part of current hardware and software releases. There’s no word as yet as to when it exits beta, though given that it only just started, it’s safe to figure that it might come out toward the end of the year.
Given that there are over 200 million active WhatsApp users in India right now, it’s no surprise that WhatsApp wanted to try and convert as many of these as possible into spenders. Even if WhatsApp manages to land just one percent of that total chipping in $10 a year in annual spending, that’s an extra $20 million a year in WhatsApp’s coffers. There’s simply no reason for a social media network to not be pursuing mobile payments. It may not get many takers, but it doesn’t need many takers. Every new taker, every new payment processed, is just a little extra profit in the tank, and social media needs revenue sources, because advertising only goes so far.
WhatsApp’s move to take mobile payments should give it a real shot in the arm fiscally, and may well ultimately serve as a catalyst to drive others into this growing market as well.