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WhatsApp’s latest beta for Android hints at integration of peer-to-peer payment

Ever since the government announced demonetisation of old Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes in November last year, digital payment adoption has seen an exponential growth in India. Reserve Bank of India’s latest data reveals that digital transactions in July 2017 had reached 859.2 million, reports Economic Times. With the increased consumer awareness, companies such as Paytm, Samsung and Facebook are now looking to tap this massive segment. While Samsung has already introduced Samsung Pay solution, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is now inching closer to roll out peer-to-peer payment facility.

In April this year, TheKen, a tech news site, had reported that WhatsApp was working to integrate Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and Aadhaar payments into its platform. Shortly after, WhatsApp confirmed the payment feature was indeed in the works. “We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users,” a WhatsApp spokesperson had said.

Although WhatsApp didn’t disclose a timeline for rolling out the feature then, it could soon be a reality, reports tech website XDA Developers. The site claims to have spotted a “glimpse” of the payment feature in a new update to WhatsApp’s beta version. According to the website, the feature appears to be still under development. It’s likely that the feature may undergo several changes and improvements before the roll out to the public.

That said, it will be the first time a payment feature has been spotted in WhatsApp’s beta versions since the confirmation in April this year. Hindustan Times has reached out to WhatsApp for more details on this.

The peer-to-peer payment feature will come weeks after TrueCaller, another popular application in India, launched UPI-based payment service. Launched in partnership with ICICI Bank, Truecaller Pay allows users to send and receive money from other UPI-enabled banks. Moreover, users can also recharge their phones and TataSky account. The service also supports Paytm.

Even though WhatsApp is yet to confirm how the payment service will work, it’s highly likely to be similar to Truecaller’s. It is worth noting that WhatsApp has more than 200 million users in India. Taking WhatsApp’s huge user base in India into account, the feature could very help India achieve the target of 2,500 crore digital transactions for 2017-18, as said by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech this year.

With an integration of payment service, the application could give a tough competition to popular digital wallet Paytm. Interestingly, Paytm is planning to introduce an instant messaging feature within its app. Sources suggest that the feature will be rolled out by end of this month.

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asad ullah

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