Facebook-owned global messaging platform WhatsApp will be the newest entrant to India’s payments market now that it is in compliance with the country’s data-localisation norms. Entering the country with a beta launch in 2018, the payment feature will now be rolled out to its 400 million-strong user base once the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gives the go-ahead.
Also ReadWhatsApp to work with partners in India to enhance access to financial products
This comes on the heels of the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) certifying to the Supreme Court that WhatsApp had now “localised five data elements” that were identified by the banking regulator and mandated them to store in India.
WhatsApp has said that it has spent “significant engineering time and effort” over the last seven months to comply with the guidelines laid down by the country’s banking regulator.
According to an official statement from parent company Facebook, “An independent third-party auditor, certified by CERT-in (the government agency under the IT ministry), has confirmed that WhatsApp’s payments feature satisfies the data localisation requirements under the RBI circular and frequently asked questions (FAQs).”
According to an affidavit filed by RBI in the Supreme Court, the central bank said it was satisfied with WhatsApp’s compliance with the regulator’s data storage rules and was good to go live on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform. WhatsApp Pay is already running a beta rollout with some users in India.
“More than four years ago, Prime Minister Modi launched this (UPI) ground-breaking initiative to provide Indian citizens with the ability to make digital payments to one another and to the more than 60 million Indian small businesses that serve local communities and the world,” said Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp, in an opinion piece in The Financial Express.
Cathcart added that UPI is a world-class payments system, that can also anchor a broader suite of fintech applications like micro-pensions, digital insurance products, and flexible loans which WhatsApp can facilitate. “These powerful tools can build on the extraordinary success India has made in lifting millions of people out of poverty and build resilience to future economic shocks,” he said.
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Partnering for progress
As part of its efforts to further integrate with the Indian fintech space, WhatsApp has also become the platform of choice for both SMBs and large businesses to talk to their customers and grow through the pandemic. Payments is that last step in that journey.
“The launch of payments can truly accelerate financial inclusion by giving access to the users that need it the most. For your average rural women entrepreneur, the internet is synonymous with WhatsApp, making it seamless to use digital payments once made available on this simple platform,” said Abhijit Bose, WhatsApp’s India Head at the virtual Global Fintech Fest on July 22.
He added that WhatsApp would also work with partners such as banks and other financial institutions to give people, especially those in rural areas and from low-income groups, easier access to financial instruments like insurance, microcredit and pension. This will also accelerate the use of digitised payments by small and medium businesses.
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“We will take risks, but we’ll do it with controlled pilots. And, based on user acceptance, we will invest and scale the solutions that deliver results," he said.
Bose also said that WhatsApp had been working closely with banks — including ICICI, Kotak Mahindra and HDFC — over the past year to explore ways to increase financial access to these individuals who were yet to enter the mainstream banking market.
In his opinion piece, Cathcart had stated that rapidly scaling UPI is the need of the hour and one of the best ways to strengthen India’s digital economy. “Today people can send money to their ageing parents isolated during this time of physical distancing. Migrant workers can support their families. Farmers can make sales outside of the market.”
He said that WhatsApp shares PM Modi's belief that “there has never been a better time to invest in India. With courage, ambition, and boundless potential, India can emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before—a leading democratic digital powerhouse that will lead the world through the 21st century.”
Original Source: yourstory.com
WhatsApp will work with partners like banks and financial institutions in India to make it easier for people to access products such as insurance, microcredit, and pension, its India Head Abhijit Bose said on Wednesday.
The company will also support multiple pilots to test potential solutions to solve problems related to distribution of financial products, Bose said at the Global Fintech Fest.Also ReadOver 15M in India use WhatsApp Business app every month
The Facebook-owned company has been working for more than a year with banking partners to see how it can supplement their digital presence and accelerate the pace of financial access across segments and geographies in the country, Bose said.
"We now want to open up with more banks…over this coming year to help simplify and expand banking services, especially to the rural and lower income segments…we also aim to expand our experiments with partners for other products that the RBI highlighted as basic financial services, starting with micro pensions and insurance," he added.
Bose said the collective aim over the next two to three years is to be able to help low wage workers in the unorganised informal economy to easily access three products – insurance, microcredit, and pension.
WhatsApp had started testing its payments service – WhatsApp Pay – in India in 2018. The UPI-based service, which allows users to utilise the messaging platform to send and receive money, competes against SoftBank-backed Paytm, Flipkart's PhonePe, and Google Pay in India.
While a full-scale national rollout is yet to happen for WhatsApp Pay in India over regulatory issues, the company had launched WhatsApp Pay in Brazil last month.
Bose noted that the fintech innovation happening in India is years ahead of other countries, including the US.
He said, over the next year and a half, WhatsApp will be supporting multiple pilots to test potential solutions to solve problems related to distribution of financial products.
"These pilots will be done jointly with our partners as well as innovative tech partners in each vertical. Each pilot will start with a small experiment to test our hypotheses and based on the results, we will co-invest and scale the ones that show promise," he informed.
Bose emphasised that even a small conversion of the demand will translate into significant infusion of savings into the financial system, and said the company's ultimate goal is for every Indian to have access and affordable micropension, and insurance services.
He highlighted that the core principles of WhatsApp – simplicity, reliability, privacy, and security – are the reasons that people trust and are comfortable with the platform, and these tenets are "critical" when one talks about adoption of new digital services, especially financial services.
With over 400 million users, India is currently among the biggest markets for WhatsApp.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
Original Source: yourstory.com