WhatsApp may launch peer-to-peer payment service by February-end

WhatsApp’s highly anticipated peer-to-peer payment service may become available to users in India as early as next month. The Facebook-owned instant messaging company is working to integrate Unified Payments Interface-based payment platforms in coordination with major banks of the country, including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and State Bank of India, reports Economic Times.

The publication claims that the service has already reached the beta stage of testing with one of its partner banks. The two sides are reportedly testing various aspects of the integration, especially security. The latest report comes months after the first hint of the feature was seen in a beta version of the application. The feature then appeared to be in early developmental stages. By now, the codes may have undergone various changes.

We’ve been hearing about WhatsApp’s upcoming payment service since April last year. Since then, popular technology companies such as Truecaller and Hike have already launched peer-to-peer payment services on their respective platforms. These two companies have continued to build on the platform with various new features for their users. Popular digital wallet firm Paytm also joined the bandwagon, although by integrating the instant messaging facility on its application. Paytm’s Inbox comes with WhatsApp-like features such as real-time location sharing and recall messages, besides payment services.

Even Google has joined the bandwagon with its India-focused Tez payment service. Launched in September last year, Google Tez lets you make and request payments vis-a-vis friends. The platform has already crossed the 5-million downloads mark on Google Play Store.

Last month, Google revealed that Tez surpassed 140 million transactions, and has over 12 million monthly active users. Like Truecaller and Hike, Google is also expanding the purview of Tez by adding new features and on-board partners.

While WhatsApp has clearly lost the first mover advantage, it still can race past the competition thanks to its massive user base in the country. India, one of the biggest markets for WhatsApp, has more than 200 million users on the platform.

Apart from peer-to-peer payments, WhatsApp is also working on a business app that is already in its beta stage on Google Play Store. The company has tied up with BookMyShow and is in the process of adding more partners to its dedicated business application.