WhatsApp is accelerating its mobile payment service launch in India even as its efforts aren't going completely in accordance with the original plan, Bloomberg reports, citing sources with knowledge of the situation. While Facebook's subsidiary initially targeted four partners at launch, State Bank of India won't be supporting its upcoming payment platform initially as it still has to conclude its technological preparations to do so. ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank already have the necessary systems in place and will be compatible with WhatsApp's solution from day one, as per the same report.
Facebook is understood to have been delaying the launch of the service in recent weeks as it was still hoping to debut it with four partners but is now accelerating its efforts so as to not fall too far behind its rivals, sources claim. The technology giant will hence be taking on the likes of Paytm and Google in the mobile payment sector directly, with Samsung being another high-profile competitor that's presently growing its presence in the South Asian country. WhatsApp has been testing its solution in India since at least February, having already signaled it's preparing such a platform last year. With some 200 million users in the country, the company already has a massive install base that it can cater to.
No firm launch date has yet been attached to WhatsApp's native payment solution, though Facebook's subsidiary is expected to share an update on the matter by the end of the month. Following a sudden demonetization of a number of popular banknotes in the country announced in 2016, mobile payment systems rose in popularity, with India now being one of the world's fastest-growing markets for such technologies. The upcoming launch of the new WhatsApp solution will also help Facebook monetize its messaging service more effectively, something CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted as one of the company's business priorities in 2018.