WhatsApp Payments Can Usher In a New Breed of Financial Services

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WhatsApp Pay is currently available only in India and Brazil, Meta’s two biggest markets. A precursor to next-level integrated services, the feature can stimulate digital competitiveness and the creation of other crossover consumer services.

Digital Transactions Taking Over Cash

India is known – or was, rather – as a cash-first market. The rapid growth of digital payments, through domestic startups and global service providers, has brought remote and contactless transactions to over half of all desi consumers. The Payments feature on the country’s biggest peer messaging service (and the company’s largest global consumer market) was launched over a year ago, with gradual introduction as per RBI rules.

Meta (formerly Facebook) has over 400 million users on its WhatsApp subsidiary in India, making it a potential behemoth in any service niche at this point. Combined with the growth in the payments landscape in general, WhatsApp Payments could quickly rival most digital wallets and mobile payment providers.

Electronic payments are already the norm in most urban areas, down to Tier-3 cities. Digital payments may still need to be metabolized by many smaller businesses and rural users but with nearly 800 million online users, India has plenty of room to grow in almost any digital sector.

WhatsApp Payments could further boost the adoption of digital transactions in many areas of our daily lives: from bill payment to peer transfers and online lottery ticket purchase transactions. Consumers are likely to be easily won over by its ease and convenience. Businesses, government services and digital infrastructure still have some gaps to close but the transformation is irreversible.

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UPI Payments a Digital Success Story for WhatsApp to Follow and Challenge

What we call the “new normal” has been a reality even in pre-pandemic consumption. UPI-based mobile and remote payments had taken root in large retail chains, online platforms and even Kirana stores across the country. The contactless features further spurred adoption in daily service providers – food delivery, cab rides and many others provided over apps or point-of-sale devices.

With digital payments accepted globally, India had to make up ground and did just that. Between the summer of 2020 and 2021, UPI-based transactions more than doubled, EY India estimates. UPI is a homegrown system, backed by the RBI, and has turned into the preferred means of the majority of online transactions.

Other digital wallets add up to the almost 40% share of e-commerce volume, in addition to cards and physical transactions. Cashless has, however, taken the upper hand and WhatsApp has entered the scene in time to see its initial RBI-imposed user quota quickly fill up. Over half of India’s mobile users are on WhatsApp, making its integrated payments service an instant competitor to Google Pay, Apple Pay and any other mobile payments framework.

Reliance Jio has also teamed up with Meta, announcing an increasing level of compatibility between its services and WhatsApp Payments. The Jio Mart shopping app is rumored to get WhatsApp integration, making their joint effort a force to reckon with in the e-commerce world.

The digital payments landscape is incredibly dynamic, with proven benefits to consumers and businesses. Merchants are now able to closely follow user experiences, preferences and big-data trends. This causes the entire digital business ecosystem to adjust and enrich their platform features, with payments a prime example, providing more efficient contact points between companies and consumers.

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