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WhatsApp can help onboard next 500 million users on UPI, says India head

WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose said that the company can help scale financial inclusion and help people get access to microfinance digital banking services. Currently, WhatsApp is allowed to onboard only 40 million UPI users as per NPCI's directions.

December 02, 2021 / 07:26 PM IST

Continuing its push to grow the usage of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) on its platform, WhatsApp India's head Abhijit Bose said that the instant messaging app can be instrumental in bringing the next 500 million users on UPI.

"Adoption of digital payments for the first 100 million-plus people in UPI has been a global success story. We hope that WhatsApp can help take that story to the next level by helping onboard the next 500 million people, who are at the bottom of the pyramid and can benefit the most," Bose said speaking at the Digital Money conference by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

Currently, WhatsApp is allowed to onboard only 40 million UPI users and its share in monthly volumes remains at a minuscule 0.06 percent. However, since the Meta (erstwhile Facebook) owned company doubled down on growing its UPI user base, transaction volumes and values have been growing with every month.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) which is the umbrella organisation that handles UPI transactions allowed WhatsApp to increase its UPI user base cap from 20 million to 40 million only in November 2021. Moneycontrol was the first to report that NPCI will hike the cap in a phased manner.

WhatsApp's transactions consistently doubled in September and October after the company made its UPI feature more prominent in the app with a rupee icon in the chat composer and extended the feature to more users.


The instant messaging app has over 400 million users in India which is its largest market globally. Bose added that one of WhatsApp's key objectives is digitisation especially for small and medium businesses and other underserved sectors.

"We can help scale financial inclusion, as people will be able to get access to microfinance digital banking services that they didn't have. For the first time in a long time, we as a society, have the ability to significantly democratise access (of financial services) in the economy through technology," he added.

Bose also spoke about how private, small finance and cooperative banks have deployed mobile banking services through WhatsApp.

"In 2021, we have also seen growth in pilots that were launched. People can now access and purchase health insurance from State Bank of India (SBI), as well as sign up for micro pensions from the National Pension Scheme (NPS)."

In a new service addition for the Indian market, ride-hailing firm Uber will allow users to book rides through WhatsApp. The company is launching the service this week starting with the city of Lucknow.
Priyanka Iyer
first published: Dec 2, 2021 07:26 pm

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