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WhatsApp Pay To Fully Launch In India Soon, Says Zuckerberg This comes months after the country's central bank reportedly blocked a full-fledged launch of the service citing data localization norms.

By Debroop Roy

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After what has been a tumultuous time for social networking company Facebook, there finally seems to be something to cheer about. On a post-earnings call with analysts, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that WhatsApp Pay, the UPI-based payments service, will officially be available to everyone in India soon.

"We're taking a number of different approaches here, ranging from people buying and selling to each other directly to businesses setting up storefronts, to people engaging with businesses directly through messaging and a number of things on payments ranging from existing — using existing national systems like India's UPI to creating new global systems," Zuckerberg said.

This comes months after the country's central bank reportedly blocked a full-fledged launch of the service citing data localization norms. RBI's data localisation norms require foreign companies to store transaction and user data inside India and delete the data from foreign servers within 24 hours.

On the call, Zuckerberg said the company had seen the potential for WhatsApp Pay in India after a beta version was launched to a limited million users about two years ago.

He said the service could reach everyone in India and a few other countries officially in the next six months. "I'm really excited about this, and I expect this to start rolling out in a number of countries and for us to make a lot of progress here in the next six months."

Boost For UPI

Ever since the government launched its flagship payments interface in UPI, it has seen a massive uptick due to its ease of use, security and accessibility across apps.

UPI registered over 1.3 billion transactions worth INR 2 trillion in December 2019, according to data from the National Payments Corporation of India.

WhatsApp, which is the most-used messaging app in India and has managed to become a household name even in smaller cities and towns, coming into the space is expected to transform the digital payments landscape even further.

Under Fire

WhatsApp has also been under fire for several data privacy breaches in the recent past. In India, Israeli-spyware Pegasus reportedly snooped into the phones of over a hundred users, in what was deemed to be a targeted attempt at journalists and activists.

Rival service Telegram's founder Pavel Durov, who is a long-standing advocate of data privacy, had launched a war of words against the US-based company in November, saying it was naive to think Facebook would change its policies following the acquisition of WhatsApp.

The European Union implemented the general data protection regulation in 2018 while India has been working on its own bill of rights for online data privacy.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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