Indian users can now make peer-to-peer (P2P) payments on Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Payments a P2P solution that uses the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is being beta tested in India, The Indian Express reported on 11 February 2018. The solution is not being advertised but some users can access it through WhatsApp settings. Not every WhatsApp user will be able to see Payments because it is in beta test.
WhatsApp Payments is available on both the Apple (AAPL) iOS and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android versions of the incredibly popular social-messaging solution, The Indian Express reported. Facebook is partnering with the Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI Bank) in the rollout.
Facebook joins Indian Effort to Discourage Cash Use
Several Indian banks including ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are supporting WhatsApp Payments. The UPI is the National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) effort to get average Indians to use digital banking and payment in lieu of cash. The NCPI has the backing of the Reserve Bank of India, that country’s central bank.
The Reserve Bank and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been trying to discourage the use of cash in India for some time. They believe eliminating cash will reduce crime and corruption, and modernize the economy. Another reason is to make India a leader in financial technology.
WhatsApp Payments is big news because WhatsApp had more than 1.5 billion users worldwide in December 2017, according to Statista. Even if just 1% of them were to start using Payments, it can create a huge financial services ecosystem.
WhatsApp has around 200 million users in India alone, The Indian Express reported. There are no known plans to roll WhatsApp Payments out in other countries or offer financial services such as lending through it at this time.
A successful WhatsApp Payments would be a model for a financial services solution Facebook can roll out in other countries. A major use for it would be to add a payments solution to Facebook itself. Another goal of WhatsApp Payments is to help Mark Zuckerberg achieve his goal of actually making money from WhatsApp, which is notoriously unprofitable.
Apple Pay shuts down in London Underground and Buses
Large numbers of Apple Zombies in the UK received a nasty surprise on 8 February; when ticket machines in London buses and subway stations stopped accepting Apple Pay.
Ticket machines in the Tube stopped accepting Apple Pay during the morning rush hour, The Daily Mail reported. The unexplained outage then spread to similar machines on buses operated by Transport for London.
News stories did not say whether the ticket machines stopped accepting Google Pay (formerly Android Pay). It looks as if Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) promises of seamless connectivity are greatly exaggerated.
Nations like the United States and the United Kingdom might be well-served by following India’s example and setting up a National Payments Corporation and a UPI. Such solutions might be necessary to facilitate digital payment for average citizens in the real world.