India’s competition commission is reviewing a complaint filed against Whatsapp, for using its dominant position to launch a payment service in the country. This has come in via a report from Reuters, which talked to three sources close to the matter.
The complaint is specific to Whatsapp’s much storied launch of a UPI-backed digital payments service Whatsapp Pay. The complainant has accused Whatsapp of using its dominant position in social networking space to push a bundled payments service to the users.
Whatsapp has been testing its payment service in India for close to two years now. Since 2018, the company has limited the service to just 1 million of the 400 million users it has in India, due to regulatory clearances. Facebook, Whatsapp’s parent, has been making efforts to get those clearances, but hasn’t tasted much success. One of the biggest thorn in negotiations is India’s new data localisation laws, something that Facebook/Whatsapp aren’t exactly looking to agree upon.
The CCI can order its investigations arm to conduct a wider probe into the allegations, or throw out the case if it finds no merit in it. “The case is in initial stages .. senior members of CCI are reviewing it but a final decision hasn’t been reached,” said the first of the three sources to Reuters.
Whatsapp Pay, the UPI enabled payments service from the IM app will be bundled with the regular Whatsapp app. As a result, all of its 400 million users will get access to the payments service, something that could harm competitors in the field. Some of the big names in India’s booming digital payments space include the likes of Paytm, Google-owned GPay, Flipkart-owned PhonePe among others.