Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp is testing a new payments feature in India that aims to allow people to send money to their friends on the app, the media reported. The feature is currently in beta, but has not been publicly announced because it is not widely available at this time, TechCrunch reported late on Thursday citing sources familiar with the company’s plans.
When it is launched, the new WhatsApp payments feature could give popular digital wallet platform Paytm, and other messaging services that already support payments, including the recently launched Tez from Google a tough competition.
The payments feature would take advantage of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and include support by a number of banks, including the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank, the report said. Beta testers have now found their WhatsApp interface displaying a large list of supported banks and they can see a payments feature appear in their WhatsApp Settings menu.
In order to configure the feature, users must first verify their phone number via SMS and then choose a bank. After the completion of the configuration, the option to send a payment becomes available. WhatsApp currently has over 200 million monthly active users in India.
To help businesses communicate better with their customers in India, WhatsApp last month officially rolled out “WhatsApp Business” — a free-to-download Android app for small businesses — in the country.