The UPI-based WhatsApp Payments platform arrived in India in a test phase last month, bringing yet another digital payments platform to the country. The platform enables any user with a UPI ID to send money to other users with UPI IDs directly from individual and group chats on the app. Now, users are reporting a ‘more visible’ placement of the Send to UPI ID feature that allows users to directly send across payments to unique UPI IDs without going into conversation threads.
The new feature can be accessed by going into the WhatsApp app > Settings > Payments > Send Payment > Send to UPI ID (on top of the contacts list). You can then enter the unique UPI ID of the recipient that you wish to transfer funds to. Previously, users would first have to try to sending a payment via a conversation thread, using the Attach or Plus button, and if the recipient didn’t have an associated payment account (or used a different phone number than they use for WhatsApp), the sender would then be shown the option to send it to a UPI ID directly.
UPI IDs can be obtained from numerous government, private, and payments banks in India. The feature is currently available on the stable version (v2.18.31) on iPhone, and is also available on the WhatsApp beta (v2.18.75) on Android. Additionally, WhatsApp now also offers a Notify button for informing users that have not created a payment account when someone tries to send them a payment. Once they have set up, the sender receives a notification as well. The new placement of the Send to UPI ID feature was spotted by a Twitter user.
WhatsApp Payments is parent company Facebook’s first attempt on the digital payments front, and comes at a time when players like Paytm and Google Tez have started gaining ground in the Indian market, in the wake of the central government’s demonetisation initiative back in 2015.
Within a few days after launch, WhatsApp Payments had been accused of not offering a secure platform and not adhering to UPI’s interoperability characteristics. With the improved visibility of the Send to UPI ID button, WhatsApp might be looking to defend these allegations that have led competitors to believe that the messaging app is hiding interoperability and in turn create a monopolistic situation with its massive user base.