Facebook-owned messaging app Whatsapp is the latest to join the mobile-payments bandwagon with its User Payment Interface (UPI) payment feature. Although the feature has not been rolled out for Android or iOS officially, many users have received the feature on their app.
Mobile payment applications have picked up recently in India as an aftereffect of demonetization and because of the simplicity and convenience they offer. Paytm was the first company to initiate third-party payments and it became hugely popular after the sudden slay of demonetization that India saw from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017. Seeing the potential of this service, Google launched ‘Tez’ in September last year. Since then, they have acquired about 12 million users.
Even as Apple Pay, Paytm and Google Tez are struggling for eyeballs in the online payments market, WhatsApp is a player that could outbid all of them. With more than a billion users daily, they had to jump into the fray and could pose a major challenge for all competitors.
The UPI feature from WhatsApp is being termed as a major development since the messenger is widely used by individuals and forms an essential part of their lives. It is the number one application for messaging that has no close competitors due its popularity.
The update, available for both Android and iOS users, has the backing of National Payments Corporation of India. This is another reason why this service is bound to steal the limelight. The UPI is pretty simple and can be accessed from the Settings section of the menu by clicking on the Payments option. A dialogue box will appear that will ask the user for verification of the mobile number through an OTP and this will be a one-time process.
However, this introductory service is still not equipped with QR code scanning and payments can be made only to one’s WhatsApp contacts. This could limit a lot of transactions. The other thing is that to avail this service, both the parties should have updated the application for the transaction to occur seamlessly.
The payment feature in WhatsApp is almost similar to Paytm, except that the latter allows you to interact with external payment gateways. Google Tez, on the other hand, does not allowing messaging services but makes it easy to make short payments such as for movie tickets, mobile recharges as well as electricity bills.
This feature eliminates the need of a debit or credit card for undertaking online transactions and expedites the whole process altogether. Hike has also experimented with this aspect, but failed to attract traction. It will be interesting to see whether WhatsApp is able to transform the online payment domain in India through this practically useful feature.