Mobile to mobile money transfer is currently the biggest trend in payments. Facebook Messenger Pay has been available for more than 2 years in the US, and finally crossed the Atlantic, launching in the UK and France, in late November last year. Now it’s the turn of Facebook-owned Whatsapp.
The service will not be available in Europe just yet however – rumours have been circulating for some time that WhatsApp were preparing to make peer-to-peer payments available, and it seems it has landed in India first.
Users in India have been posting images of the new WhatsApp payments screen, as well as an accompanying message that reads: “send and receive money securely with UPI”; UPI stands for United Payments Interface, a payments system used by many Indian banking services.
The pictures were posted by the Twitter account of WABetaInfo, on February 7th. On the same date the account also posted a message reading “Don’t worry. If you haven’t the Payment option in WhatsApp, you have to wait. The roll out is very slow and it may be necessary one day, two days or also weeks. I don’t know if this is a coincidence but seems many Indian users with the “Airtel” Carrier have Payments in WhatsApp.”
Banks that will be working with WhatsApp pay are rumoured to be State Bank of India, ICICI, HDFC, and Axis bank. Users are required to confirm the new feature by SMS text message, before selecting the bank they wish to use, from a lengthy list.
WhatsApp is wildly popular in India, with more than 200 million active daily users, partly due to the fact that the app consumes less data than rival apps, including Facebook, and most Indians se less powerful smartphones than in the developed world. An entire social culture has been built up in India around the app and its various functionalities, such as group chat, emojis and now, payments.
The WhatsApp money transfer service is said to still be in beta, hence the softest of soft launches, which can also be viewed as a canny marketing strategy, leveraging millennials “FOMO”, or Fear Of Missing Out.
For now, WhatsApp are remaining tight lipped about the launch – clearly, they are confident that the buzz will generate itself, which has proven to be the case so far.
The mobile payments market is crowded in India, with the likes of Google Tez, Paytm, and Tencent backed Hike, with the launch of the Unified Payments Interface, an Indian government inspired instant payments transfer digital infrastructure, making the market particularly attractive.
India, and Africa, continue to lead the way when it comes the mobile money transfer game. Don’t expect to see WhatsApp pay available in Europe any time soon.