Tuesday April 4, 2017 2:37 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Mobile chat platform WhatsApp could be set to roll out peer-to-peer payments in India, which is home to its largest market with over 200 million users (via TechCrunch). According to India-based media company The Ken, WhatsApp plans to use a cross-bank payment system called UPI, which is backed by the government, to enable payments between users within the next six months. WhatsApp has neither confirmed nor denied the claim, but there are precedents for the messaging service to move into mobile payments. During a visit to the country in February, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton met with India's IT minister and said the company was "in the early stages" of exploring how it might incorporate payment systems into the platform. Last week, Swedish-based phone number lookup service Trucaller introduced user-to-user payments in India via a tie-in with ICICI Bank, which makes use of the same UPI system WhatsApp is said to be integrating. Facebook has had a payments system in its Messenger app for some time in the U.S., but WhatsApp is far more popular in India and is already being used there as an e-commerce portal despite not yet offering any features that explicitly support the practice. Samsung launched Samsung Pay in India for select Samsung Galaxy series devices last month, after it partnered up with Axis, HDFC, ICIC, SBI and Standard Chartered banks, and embraced the UPI standard. Apple spoke with the Indian government about introducing Apple Pay back in 2015, while talks with several banks in the country about incorporating the system are said to be ongoing.