BENGALURU: Popular messaging application WhatsApp has got the regulatory approval to launch on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in a ‘graded manner’ where it can expand to a maximum of 20 million users initially. The application was stuck in beta mode for more than two-and-a-half years. The app was restricted to 1 million users since February 2018.
The vital expansion of WhatsApp came on the corresponding day when the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which regulates UPI, also said that “it will implement a 30% cap on total payment volumes through a single third party payments app from January 1st, 2021”.
Other third-party apps on UPI, will get two years to comply till January 2023. WhatsApp and other new apps on UPI, this will apply from next January. More than 400 million people use WhatsApp monthly actively in India. That’s why everyone is thinking that WhatsApp will corner other UPI apps.
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In their release, a senior banker also said the payment volume cap is to ensure no one single player ends up with “most of the market share”. Whatsapp will get 2-3 months of the trial period and after that, it would be decided if they should expand their user base. Nowadays, Google Pay and Walmart-owned PhonePe are the most used UPI apps. They control nearly 40% share on UPI, as of October. Rivals like Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, and others are under pressure as WhatsApp’s arrival can change industry dynamics.
UPI just recorded 2 billion transactions in a single month for the first time last month. NPCI also said that WhatsApp can launch on UPI in the multi-bank model. Its payments volume cap of 30% will ‘help to address the risks and protect the UPI ecosystem as it further scales up’. Sameer Nigam PhonePe co-founder and CEO told in September that “the idea wasn’t good and why would anyone invest if their leadership is punished”.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp didn’t get the final nod easily. Primarily regulators weren’t happy with its data localization compliance initially. They faced at least two legal challenges in the Supreme Court.
“Deepak Abbot, a payments industry veteran and co-founder of fintech startups India Gold said that, “WhatsApp might get hit immediately in this market share cap because they are the new player”.
In their release, the banker said that “NPCI will issue further guidelines over the next 30-45 days over the implementation so consumer experience is not hit”. WhatsApp authority did not immediately comment on the regulatory nod. Spokespersons of Google Pay, PhonePe, and Paytm did not give any reaction on market share cap either.