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WhatsApp’s much anticipated feature, WhatsApp Pay (or Payments), which went live in India in November, is now working in partnership with four of the most prominent banks in India in order to provide the digital payments service for the country’s population.

On Nov 5th, the Facebook owned messenger received a nod from National Payments Corporation of India to set up a payments system. According to NPCI, WhatsApp is allowed to expand its UPI user base in a graded manner starting with a maximum registered user base of twenty (20) million in UPI.

In order to provide the payments service in the country, WhatsApp has partnered with State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank, which are considered as one of the top banks in India.

State Bank of India (SBI) is the largest commercial bank in the country, and has over 45 crore customers. The bank has over 120 million UPI users with 28% market share as a Remitter Bank, which is highest in the UPI ecosystem. ICICI Bank, on the other hand, is a leading private sector bank in India. ICICI Bank currently has a network of 5,288 branches and 15,158 ATMs across India.

Commenting on ICICI Bank’s partnership with WhatsApp, Mr. Bijith Bhaskar, Head – Digital Channels & Partnership, ICICI Bank said, “Keeping the convenience in mind, we introduced banking services on WhatsApp in April. The initiative helped our customers bank conveniently and remotely without visiting the branch during the pandemic. We have seen an encouraging response from our customers. Over two million users have adopted banking services on WhatsApp in this short span.”

HDFC Bank is also one of India’s leading private banks and was among the first to receive approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to set up a private sector bank in 1994. HDFC currently has a banking network of 5,430 branches and 15,292 ATMs spread across 2,848 cities and towns. Last, but not the least, Axis Bank is India’s third largest private sector bank with a vast footprint of 4,568 branches across the country, and has been in the forefront of the push towards digital payments in India.

“We remain focused on accelerating the digital evolution of India’s financial services ecosystem. As a digital ally, WhatsApp has the potential to support our customers in a seamless manner through servicing, onboarding and managing grievances, all, on the same platform. We have been actively committed to enabling the drive towards a Digital India, and in this endeavor continuously work on innovation-led partnership models to offer digital banking solutions to customers,” said Sanjeev Moghe, EVP & Head – Cards & Payments, Axis Bank.

Digital payments in India are expected to reach $94 trillion by FY25. Built on India’s Unified Payments Interface, WhatsApp Payments seeks to make P2P or person-to-person payments as easy as sending a text message. The service allows users to connect their bank account through UPI, and send money to other WhatsApp contacts easily. The ease of user and accessibility can further boost India’s push towards digital payments.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the worlds biggest messaging app with around 2 billion active users worldwide, and since the app already has a large userbase in India, this could greatly help speed up the rate at which its payments service is adapted in the country. WhatsApp Pay has already registered 0.3 million transactions worth 13 crore, according to November’s UPI stats published by NPCI.

“We’re excited and privileged to partner with State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and AXIS Bank to bring simple and secure digital payments to WhatsApp users across India. UPI is a transformative service and we jointly have the opportunity to bring the benefits of our digital economy and financial inclusion to a large number of users who have not had full access to them before,” said Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp, India.