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Indian Payment Landscape Heats Up: WhatsApp’s New Rival Joins the Fray

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WhatsApp said on Wednesday that it will offer credit card payments and services from rival digital payment providers within its app in India, the latest bet by the Meta-owned (META.O) service to boost commerce offerings in its biggest market. The app currently offers its own WhatsApp Pay service in the country, but it is limited to 100 million people and can only be used for business purchases. People could previously buy goods or services on WhatsApp through a service like Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google Pay or Walmart-backed Paytm and PhonePe, but only after being redirected to outside apps.

Adding the new payment options and a push into the world’s second-largest internet market by WhatsApp for business messaging reflects an increased focus on social media commerce by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The move also signals more competition in the space, which may lead to higher-quality services and improved user trust, potentially benefiting the industry.

Users in India can use the feature by adding products they wish to purchase to a chat with a seller and then tapping “Pay” to complete the transaction, WhatsApp said in a blog post. The company will charge a small processing fee to cover the transaction’s cost. The new feature is being rolled out to everyone in India using the WhatsApp app, and the company expects to expand it to more countries over time.

To ensure security, the app will authenticate all payments to verify that the buyer is who they say they are. The feature is backed by the government’s digital payments regulatory body, the National Payment Corporation of India. The company also is partnering with local banks, including ICICI Bank Ltd (ICICI.NS), to provide further verification and authentication for the service.

In addition to the new payment features, WhatsApp is expanding a business-focused feature called Flows to more than 150 markets worldwide, allowing brands and companies to communicate with their customers in one place on the app. Flows can help companies manage and track customer inquiries, order status, and more.

Android and iPhone users in India must update the app to the latest version to access the new features. Users worldwide can check for availability and learn more by visiting WhatsApp’s website or contacting its support team. The new payments and Flows are rolling out to individual users for free, but the company plans to charge businesses a small processing fee when they make a sale through WhatsApp. The company has yet to announce the details of that fee. To see the new options, users should verify their mobile number and ensure they have granted WhatsApp Business permission to handle payment information on their devices. If the new features aren’t appearing, WhatsApp recommends reviewing privacy settings and device-specific issues like network connectivity or server problems.

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