Four banks joined WhatsApp's money transfer service in India which they're set to support as soon as the platform launches on a countrywide level, National Payments Corp of India revealed earlier this week. The Facebook-owned company already managed to secure the cooperation of the ICICI Bank which processes all payments on the current version of the service, though the names of the remaining three financial institutions backing its product remain unknown. Assuming WhatsApp is targeting the largest possible reach, it would also have to enlist the help of the State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, and the Punjab National Bank.
While the Menlo Park, California-based firm has been testing its money transfer solution in the South Asian country since at least August, it wasn't until last week that the platform became more widely available to local consumers. Even though initial reports suggested the latest rollout encompassed all users, that didn't end up being the case, with the National Payments Corp of India claiming the launch was still deemed experimental in nature and made the app available to only a million users. WhatsApp presently has approximately 200 million users in India, making the country its largest market. Following an unexpected demonetization of several popular banknotes in late 2016, India's economy found itself strapped for cash and consumers were pushed to mobile payments solutions which are still gaining significant traction in the country. While WhatsApp may eventually start offering such a service, the current version of its platform has only been designed for person-to-person payments, i.e. sending money to friends and family.
The in-app money transfer service utilizes the United Payments Interface platform which allows participating banks to process any transactions made by WhatsApp users. A UPI account is still required for using WhatsApp's native solution for sending and receiving money. Mobile payments service provider Paytm is skeptical about the security of WhatsApp's upcoming functionality, according to its Friday statement. The inclusion of the feature is yet another step in WhatsApp's efforts to monetize its offerings more effectively which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said will become one of the company's priorities starting this year.