WhatsApp gets NCPI nod for payments, to tie up with multiple banks

Facebook-owned messaging application WhatsApp has received permission from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to enter into partnerships with banks to allow users make in-app payments and money transfers using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

Managing director and chief executive of NPCI A P Hota confirmed on Monday that Whatsapp has received its approval. NPCI is an umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in India.

WhatsApp has reportedly been in talks for a while with banks including Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, and Punjab National Bank, and the approval for multi-bank partnership puts its payment business ambitions on the fast track.

This is the first time that NPCI has permitted a mobile app to enter into multi-bank partnerships. "Players like WhatsApp and Google are very large in size and thus partnering with multiple banks makes sense to ensure smooth payments process. Google is now waiting the Reserve Bank of India's approval to go live on UPI," Hota told the media in Bengaluru.

Online merchants like Amazon and Uber are also in final stages of testing before enabling customer payments using UPI, Hota added. Flipkart and some other ecommerce companies have already started accepting UPI payments. Earlier, another mobile app Truecaller, had entered into a partnership with ICICI Bank for payments using UPI.

"We have permitted multi-bank partnership as Whatsapp did not want all transactions routed via one bank when payment loads are high. They are talking actively to leading banks now," Hota said.

Hota did not provide a timeline as to by when WhatsApp payments would be live on UPI.