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WhatsApp Adds Rupee Symbol In Chat Composer To Ease Sending Payments

WhatsApp India Director Payments Manesh Mahatme said the company believes that true inclusion is when customers don't have to navigate their way through their phone to make a payment.

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WhatsApp on Thursday said it has added the Rupee symbol in its chat composer to make it easier for users in India to send payments via the messaging platform. Also, the camera in the composer will now let users scan any QR code to make payments at more than 20 million stores in the country. 

Speaking at the Global FinTech Festival (GFF) 2021, WhatsApp India Director Payments Manesh Mahatme said the company believes that true inclusion is when customers don't have to navigate their way through their phone to make a payment. "An arrival point is when payments just 'fits' into a customer's intrinsic behaviour. Hundreds of millions of customers send WhatsApp messages every day...We want to make sending money as easy and simplified as sending a message," he added. The Rupee symbol rollout has begun and would soon be available to users all over India in the coming weeks.

In 2018, WhatsApp had started testing its UPI-based payments service in India. The testing was limited to about a million users as it waited for regulatory approvals to come in. In November last year, WhatsApp had announced that it is rolling out its payments services in India after receiving the nod from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). NPCI had allowed WhatsApp to start its payments service in the country in a "graded" manner, starting with a maximum registered user base of 20 million in UPI.

Asked about the 20 million cap, Mahatme said, "We are scaling up in a phased manner right now and we are partnering with NPCI to work through this scale". "Our focus right now is to currently drive awareness of our payments to feature on WhatsApp and to build new use cases to transact. We will focus on these inputs, as we go forward," he added.

In India, WhatsApp, which counts India as its biggest market with over 400 million users, competes with players like Paytm, Google Pay, Walmart-owned PhonePe, and Amazon Pay. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions have emerged as one of the most popular ways to make mobile payments and have seen significant growth, especially over the past many months as people embraced contactless digital transactions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, there were about 22 billion transactions on the UPI platform. This year, it might be around 40-45 billion transactions, NPCI Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Dilip Asbe had recently said. WhatsApp's Mahatme said the company's vision is to empower every Indian with access to payments and financial services, thereby accelerating economic empowerment and financial inclusion.

"For cultivating and onboarding the next 500 million to the digital payments ecosystem, users need to be driven by simplicity, trust, and inclusivity, he added. Mahatme noted that the Facebook-owned company will very soon - in addition to its current efforts - deploy some more marketing efforts.

"We have more than 15 million small businesses, which use WhatsApp for Business to connect with their customers. Now any small business owner, who has downloaded the WhatsApp for Business app and uses it, can just type in their virtual handle or get UPI address in chat to accept payment from WhatsApp users," he said.

(PTI)