WhatsApp started testing person-to-person payments on both Android and iOS in India, with the feature first being spotted on Thursday. Hundreds of Android users already confirmed having access to the functionality, all of whom are running the latest beta build of the mobile app, version number 2.18.41. The service appears to be based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a real-time solution for transactions designed by the National Payments Corporation of India. As such, WhatsApp's payments appear to be an Indian exclusive, designed specifically to cater to users in the South Asian country. The Facebook-owned company has been testing UPI-based peer-to-peer payments in India since at least August, though the newly observed rollout appears to be much more comprehensive than its previous experiments and reportedly encompasses all beta users of the Android app.
The move is understood to be the latest step in WhatsApp's efforts to diversify its portfolio, consequently improving its user engagement rates. With India being one of the firm's largest markets and currently experiencing a surge in the popularity of mobile transactions due to the demonetization of some popular banknotes in late 2016, the release of person-to-person payments appears to be a natural development of WhatsApp's long-term product strategy and its ever-growing ambitions.