WhatsApp Testing Person-To-Person Android Payments In India

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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 option to send money to another person is accessed via the chat interface, being located under the "Attachments" tab. Accessing the feature for the first time will present you with general terms of use and a disclaimer you'll have to accept, though subsequent payments won't require such an extra step. The current iteration of the service doesn't allow for sending payments to people running any of the previously launched stable builds of WhatsApp, though the solution is reportedly working across platforms, i.e. it can be used to send money from an Android device to an iOS user, so long as both are running the new beta version of the messaging app. All transactions need to be confirmed with a PIN you'll have to create when trying to complete your first one, unless you already have a UPI account. The profile itself cannot be created within WhatsApp but requires a separate registration procedure completed through UPI's website or mobile 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.

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