Facebook is preparing to roll out WhatsApp Pay in many more countries in the next six months. Developing markets such as India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, etc. will be the main drivers.
WhatsApp Pay existed in India back in 2018 as a part of a trial run where Facebook could test its functionality with a million users. It was, however, not allowed to go ahead with a full-fledged release owing to licensing issues. Companies looking to get a digital payments license in India are mandated by the government to have 100% data localization, which WhatsApp is yet to achieve. This could lead to a delay in its Indian launch.
One of the objectives of WhatsApp Pay was to make sending and receiving money “as quickly and easily as sending a photo,” which it did in its beta version. Users could access the payments interface from attachments, set the amount and punch in their PIN to send money instantly. You could also choose which bank account to send and receive the money in. It will be based on our indigenous Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
Facebook is also looking to integrate a payments interface in Messenger to create a unified platform for users. Considering how business accounts have taken off on both the platforms, we presume direct payments to brands to also be a future feature. It will join Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shopping, and Libra as another foray by the company into eCommerce.
In a short span of 2-3 years, India has grown to have over 10 million merchants who regularly accept digital payments, which is one of the fastest growth spurts in the world. WhatsApp already has a user base of 400 million in India, which could give an inherent advantage to WhatsApp pay against Google Pay and Paytm when it launches.