WhatsApp tests payment app in India: next stop Africa?

Facebook-owned messaging platform, WhatsApp has rolled out its payment enabled beta version in India’s crowded fintech ecosystem. There are over 100 companies, including over 60 non-banking players providing payments already in the country.

However, some experts believe that the success of the app in India would most likely see it launched in continents like Africa, with Nigeria as a primary target.

In anticipation of the launch, WhatsApp decided to make a statement to competitors by using a government-backed Unified Payment Interface (UPI) in India. The company is carrying out the testing in India in partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India, the umbrella body of digital payments.

The payment app will allow people to send money to other WhatsApp users, excluding merchant accounts. Although the feature is not widely available at the moment, but India represents a test ecosystem for the developing market.

Facebook the parent company has had designs for the payment ecosystem for a long time. As part of strategies to disrupting the space, the company has positioned itself and all its subsidiaries as the preferred platforms for small and medium business owners. A poll conducted in January 2018 by Geopoll Newsletter, disclosed that Facebook had become the second leading online retailer in the e-commerce regions behind Jumia.

“If WhatsApp becomes very successful in payments, it may become a small bank of itself. In other words, if people decide to be leaving money in their wallets without moving them to their bank accounts, most banks would struggle,” Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a professor of technology noted in a post on the subject.

WhatsApp user base and popularity has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2009. The app is now available on all major mobile desktop platforms and has over 1 billion users in 180 countries. The app receives 1.43 billion visits from users on a daily basis.

It is the most popular messaging service for individuals and businesses in Nigeria. According to data from Socialbakers, there are 29,047,855 WhatsApp users in Nigeria.

Should WhatsApp decides to look towards Nigeria, it will have to contend with old and new competition, such as like Opera Software, Google, and a Chinese company that are also nursing plans place for the market.



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