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WhatsApp to launch money transfer service in India

WhatsApp will launch a “full feature” inter-bank money transfer service in India, after a test involving a million users, National Payments Corp of India (NPCI) said.

WhatsApp's latest announcement marks the first global foray into money transfers by the Facebook-owned firm.
WhatsApp’s latest announcement marks the first global foray into money transfers by the Facebook-owned firm.

According to a Reuters report, WhatsApp launched a limited service in India – its biggest market, where it has more than 200 million users, last week. This uses customers’ phone numbers linked to bank accounts to facilitate payments, and marks the first global foray into money transfers by the Facebook-owned firm.

Four banks will join United Payments Interface (UPI) – which powers the payments service for WhatsApp, NPCI said. At present, India’s third-biggest lender, ICICI Bank, processes the fund transfers on WhatsApp, the application shows.

WhatsApp’s popularity in India is likely to pose a threat to established players, but it is entering a competitive market after Alphabet Inc’s Google launched a payments app last year to compete with local players.

The country’s cashless economy got a boost after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned old high-value currency notes in late 2016, leading to a surge in online payment providers such as homegrown player Paytm, the biggest in India.

Paytm, which is backed by Alibaba and SoftBank, expressed concerns about the security of WhatsApp’s new payments service in a statement released on Friday.

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