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WhatsApp Gets Nod to Expand Payments Service in India

The National Payments Corporation of India tells company it can increase the number of users on its payments service to 100 million from 40 million currently


WhatsApp app
India will allow WhatsApp to boost the number of users on its payment services to 100 million, but wants to the cap to remain at that amount amid fears of straining the country's financial infrastructure. File photo: AFP.

Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp has won regulatory approval to more than double the number of users on its payments service in India to 100 million, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

WhatsApp has over the years told National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that there should be no cap on users of its payments service in India, its biggest market.

Instead, the NPCI told the company on Wednesday it can increase the number of users to 100 million from 40 million currently, the sources told Reuters.

WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the NPCI confirmed the development in a statement.

Though the relaxation will come as a relief, the new cap could still limit WhatsApp’s growth prospects given it has more than 500 million users in India.

 

Wants Cap Lifted

WhatsApp has told the NPCI several times it wants to operate “without a cap”.

Privately the NPCI is of the view that allowing all its users to access the payments service – integrated with the app and allowing contacts to send each other funds – could strain the country’s financial infrastructure, one of the sources said.

The NPCI gave WhatsApp approval to launch the payments service in 2020 after the company spent years trying to comply with Indian regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally.

It started with 20 million users and the cap was increased to 40 million in November last year.

WhatsApp competes with Alphabet’s Google Pay, SoftBank and Ant Group-backed Paytm and Walmart’s PhonePe in India’s crowded digital market.

Online transactions, lending and e-wallet services have been growing rapidly in India, led by a government push to make the country’s cash-loving merchants and consumers adopt digital payments.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean OMeara

 

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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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