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Facebook to soon roll out WhatsApp Pay in India, says Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook will soon launch its payments service WhatsApp Pay in India. The social media giant has for long been in the process of testing the payments service which will be operationalised in the country in the coming days, said the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He, however, did not give any specific timeline for the launch adding that more details will be shared soon.

WhatsApp Pay as and when launched, would compete against the likes of Paytm, PhonePe and Google Pay.

"We have our test going in India. The test really shows that a lot of people are going to want to use this product. We're very optimistic that we're going to be able to launch to everyone in India soon, but of course will share more news when we have that," Zuckerberg told analysts on an earnings call on Wednesday as cited by the IANS.

The payments service's launch has been delayed owing to data compliance concerns and regulatory norms in the country, the news agency stated.

WhatsApp Pay is a peer-to-peer, UPI-based payment service that will enable users to transfer money within the instant messaging app. As and when launched it could potentially reach over 400 million users in India, especially the small and medium businesses (SMBs). Users will be able to link their UPI accounts to WhatsApp and then transact with other users accordingly.

However, the government and the Reserve Bank of India have repeatedly raised concerns over some of WhatsApp Pay's features in complying with their norms before launching it in the country.

Earlier, RBI had issued a circular directing global payment service to store transaction data of Indian customers in the country itself. WhatsApp had said that it had a local system in place to store payments-related data in compliance with RBI's regulations. However, the apex bank in its affidavit submitted to the Surpreme Court (SC) had said that the payments service did not conform with its data localisation rules.

"We differentiate between payment systems that are built on top of the existing financial infrastructure like what we're trying to do with WhatsApp payments or when we make payments in Instagram Shopping, and our work with something like Libra that is trying to build some new technological infrastructure for financial services," Zuckerberg articulated during the earnings call.

Dave Wehner, chief financial officer (CFO) at Facebook told analysts that the social media company presently has 1.62 billion daily active users, up by 9% as compared to last year. He added that the surge in numbers has been led by user base growth in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

WhatsApp which has about 400 million users in India, has been testing its payments in the country since last year with about a million users.


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