WhatsApp makes P2P payments play in India

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp is advertising for a digital transaction lead with experience of UPI, Aadhaar and BHIM, in a move which is seen as the precursor to the launch of a peer-to-peer payments service in India.

Indian media company The Ken claims that WhatsApp plans to use UPI, a cross-bank payment system backed by the government, to enable payments between users within the next six months.

On a visit to India in February, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton admitted that the company was “in the early stages” of looking into how it can incorporate payment services.

Facebook has already implemented payments for its Messenger app in the US, but the service has less traction in India, where WhatsApp has attracted over 200 million users.

In May 2015, India’s Axis Bank launched a mobile payments service that lets users send money to each other through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, email and phone contact lists.

Developed with Singapore-based social payments vendor Fastacash, the Ping Pay app enables P2P fund transfers as well as mobile top-up through the National Payments Corporation of India’s Immediate Payments Service (IMPS).

The use of messaging services as a springboard into the payments business is a growing trend, with Tencent-owned WeChat signalling its ambitions to grow its business in Europe by opening a London office last week. The latest development on this front is the formation of a partnership with UK payments processor Tramonex to provide merchant acquiring services for WeChat Pay users to make payments at the POS using the application on their mobile phones.