After changing text messaging, WhatsApp is about to throw its hat in the digital transaction ring. A UPI -based person-to-person payment feature for both Android and iOS was recently spotted by WhatsApp beta testers in India. The official launch of the feature is likely to boost digital payments in India, considering WhatsApp’s popularity, but will also intensify competition for digital wallets.
WhatsApp has been working on a digital transaction feature since 2017, and the same was spotted at times in the wild. The appearances in the past have been on earlier beta version of the popular msessaging application.
WhatsApp commands a strong user base of 250 million across India. Introducing a person-to-person payment feature for all of them gives the messaging application an advantage from the get-go over other digital transaction applications. To put things in context, Paytm has 180 million users in the country, whereas Google Tez, another UPI-based payment application, crossed 12 million users in India last year four months after its launch.
The transactions in WhatsApp Payments will be made through bank accounts linked to Unified Payments Interface (UPI), allowing users transact between accounts of different banks. This works in the favour of the messaging application as transaction between different digital wallets is still not an option.
However, there is no word on utility payments coming to WhatsApp Payments anytime soon, which could give the e-wallets an edge over it. Users actively using the feature will be another factor that has to be considered after the launch of WhatsApp Payments.
The UPI-based payment feature has been spotted in WhatsApp beta version 2.18.41 for Android and 2.18.21 for iOS. It is available in the chats attachment menu along with Documents, Gallery, Audio, Location and Contact. Selecting the payments option takes the user to a disclaimer followed by list of banks. User can now choose from this list of banks the one to be linked to UPI. Users will have to create an UPI account, through UPI application or their bank’s website, and an authentication PIN will if they are using the UPI payments platform for the first time.
Moreover, the WhatsApp payments feature seems to be coming exclusively to India. Even among beta testers, only a few can see the feature. There have been no confirmation of a transaction been made through the WhatsApp payment feature, though. Users have been complaining about problems with linking their bank accounts to UPI, which is to be expected considering the beta status of the feature. But its launch is expected to happen soon on both Android and iOS platforms.
Apart from this, the Facebook-owned messaging application is also reportedly working on a group video calling feature. The latest option has been seen on WhatsApp’s beta version 2.18.39, reported WABetaInfo. But, there’s no option to switch from video to audio call. You can add up only three people at a time.
WhatsApp is also planning to launch a sticker packs on its app, as seen in the Facebook messenger application. This will allow users to post stickers suiting their moods instead of only emojis.