Facebook’s WhatsApp Pay seems to have finally crossed regulatory hurdles that were delaying the launch of the service. The service was in beta since early 2018 and it was opened up to a million users.
According to Blomberg, ” WhatsApp is required to show a third-party auditor that all data involved in payments will be stored on servers only in India.” This is part of the bid to get approval from Reserve Bank of India, who have already licenced their biggest competitors Paytm and Amazon Pay.
WhatsApp is expected to have an easy entry into the market because of their 300+ million users in India and some feel the move will make WhatsApp similar to WeChat which has become embedded in the Chinese financial system because of their payment platform.
Beyond India however, it’s not clear if WhatsApp will be able to deploy their payments platform quickly enough. In Western countries the concept of mobile money hasn’t taken off as it has in Asia and in the African countries that have adopted mobile money, there will still be regulatory and implementation questions.
One such question is whether or not WhatsApp pay will be integrated into local financial service such as EcoCash, which I doubt. This leaves a gap for local players and is why Cassava Smartech is working on their version of a chat application with payment functionalities tied in.
Another question is how necessary a social payments application is, considering that we already have mobile money. Is it better to the point where everyone will ditch what they are used to (and works pretty well) for this new experience? We’ll see…
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