WhatsApp payments service faces further delays in India

Messaging service awaits green light from Indian government for new payment service in latest of long list of holdups


WhatsApp's Payment service has faced pushback from the Indian government, further delaying its launch, an article by The Economic Times has claimed.

According to the report, the government has requested that the company first sets up an office in India before rolling out the new services.

When the company's chief operating officer, Matt Idema, met with officials from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), the government department reportedly demanded the company has a physical presence within the country, where it will have an anticipated 220 million subscribers.

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In response to the MeitY’s demands, WhatsApp announced it is actively establishing an India-based team and has been looking to fill top positions, including Indian head and head of policy.

The recent disruption is just the latest in a long list of delays WhatsApp has experienced while attempting to pilot its payment service in the country. Earlier in the year, the Reserve Bank of India released rules that payment data needs to be stored within India, stalling progress. WhatsApp also had to update its privacy policy and add HDFC Bank and Axis Bank to its list of partner banks, causing further delays.

Additionally, the debate around fake news on social media platforms and the privacy concerns around Facebook have caused the Indian government to be weary of allowing WhatsApp to launch payments.

Despite the problems, WhatsApp has claimed that first impressions of the payment service have been positive.

"We've been testing payments on WhatsApp in India," announced Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of WhatsApp's owner, Facebook. "Of the people who have tested this, feedback and usage has been very strong. All signs point to a lot of people wanting to use this when the government gives us the green light."

Earlier in 2018, WhatsApp launched a beta version of the Payments feature for nearly one million users in India.

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