WhatsApp considering digital payment services in India: report

Instant messaging app WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc, is considering offering digital payment services in India, its first such offering globally, and had advertised for a digital transactions lead in the country, Reuters reported, citing news website The Ken.

WhatsApp's move into the Indian digital payments market in India would parallel similar moves by messaging apps like Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat in China, according to commentators. WhatsApp had 200 million of its billion plus global users in India.

"India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we're understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India," a WhatsApp spokesman said, Reuters reported, referring to a flagship government programme that aimed to boost the use of Internet-based services in the country.

"We're exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users," the spokesman said, declining to elaborate further.

Digital transactions in India shot up after prime minister Narendra Modi banned high-value bank notes in November that accounted for over 80 per cent of Indian currency in circulation at the time.

In February, WhatsApp's co-founder, Brian Acton, had told local media that the app was in early stages of investigating digital payments in the country and that he had discussed the matter with the Indian government.

According to commentators, it was important to note the fact that WhatsApp had decided to go the UPI way for its payment system and not the more popular Digital Wallets.

The Ken, which cited unnamed sources said, WhatsApp did consider mobile wallets, but the draft RBI guidelines of 20 March had led to some uncertainty.