WhatsApp Payments allies with SBI, HDFC, ICICI, Axis supporting feature through UPI

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WhatsApp Payments is now available to around 20 million users in the country. The payments feature is being supported by the State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. The WhatsApp Payments feature designed on the National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) Unified Payment Interface (UPI) system was granted approval to go live in November 2020 on a peer-to-peer basis. This means that users will be able to transfer money in a manner similar to sending messages.

The announcement comes as part of the ongoing Facebook Fuel for India summit, the first edition of India focused summit by the tech giant. The WhatsApp Payments update comes at a time when the government of India is making a continuous push for enabling digital transactions in the country, as part of the larger Digital India initiative.

It was in November that WhatsApp Payments was given the approval to enable payments for users in India within the WhatsApp app. “We’re excited and privileged to partner with State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and AXIS Bank to bring simple and secure digital payments to WhatsApp users across India. UPI is a transformative service and we jointly have the opportunity to bring the benefits of our digital economy and financial inclusion to a large number of users who have not had full access to them before,” says Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp, India, in an official statement. WhatsApp and UPI together is likely to help in increasing rural participation in the digital economy by “delivering banking and financial services to those who have been bereft of access, so far,” says the company.

Bijith Bhaskar, Head – Digital Channels & Partnership, ICICI Bank said, “We have seen an encouraging response from our customers. Over two million users have adopted banking services on WhatsApp in this short span. Now with WhatsApp Payments, there is a unique opportunity to scale essential financial services to people all over the country with ease.”

At this time, the State Bank of India has more than 120 million UPI users in the country, which totals up to about 28% share in the UPI system. The UPI, or unified payments interface, transactions have been consistently growing month on month. The latest data by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) indicates that UPI transactions for November 2020 clocked in at 2.21 billion, which is 6.7% more than the 2.07 billion in October. In September, the UPI transactions clocked in with 1.8 billion. Credit card transactions have also seen a spike in the past few months, as the coronavirus pandemic has fast-tracked the transition to digital payments. WhatsApp Payments will be competing with payment platforms including Paytm, PhonePe, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay, to name a few.

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