The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has announced that WhatsApp is currently conducting beta tests for money transfer service that it aims to launch as a “full feature product”.
The service will be the first financial offering from WhatsApp, and allows customers to link their phone numbers to their bank accounts to make payments to their contacts. The beta launch will feature “a limited user base of 1 million and low per transaction limit” according to the NCPI.
Four banks are involved in the beta to spread the transaction load between them. Currently, ICICI Bank – India’s third biggest lender - is handling all fund transfers on WhatsApp. The messaging app has over 200 million users in India, making the country one of its biggest markets.
WhatsApp is breaking into the Indian mobile payments market as competition flares, with Google recently updating its Tez payments offering to allow for the payment of bills such as utilities. The dominant payments platform is local firm Paytm, which is supported by Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Alibaba.
Despite its dominance, Paytm is concerned about competition from WhatsApp, with the firm’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma calling out WhatsApp’s parent firm Facebook for “openly colonising our payment system and…customising UPI to their benefit.”