The United Payments Interface, more commonly known as UPI is a payment system developed by the Indian government in the wake of demonetization. The goal was to allow seamless transfers of money from one person to another without having to go through the hassle of adding beneficiaries or dealing with IFSC/SWIFT codes. The payment platform gained mass popularity, so much so that various apps and digital services have now started using it. The newest app to take advantage of the UPI system could be Whatsapp, as a new beta build of the Android version of the app has been seen to include a preview of the payment system.
The UPI payments preview appeared in Whatsapp beta version 2.17.295, although it was supposedly hidden. Since then, Whatsapp has pushed the beta version up to 2.17.298 and this version does not seem to outright have the UPI payments feature, meaning that it could have either been removed (hopefully temporarily) or is just well hidden. We were not able to verify whether the existence of the UPI payments feature in the latest version of the beta.
Earlier, a PTI report had indicated that while Whatsapp would probably get UPI integration before Facebook Messenger, Google would most probably be the first to get UPI integration. The report quotes National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)’s MD & CEO AP Hota who said that “As far as Whatsapp is concerned, discussions have commenced…For Facebook, discussions are in preliminary stage,” in a conversation with PTI reporters.
Interestingly, UPI integration has been an important component for many in the digital space in India. While Facebook, Google and Whatsapp are yet to get an approval from RBI for UPI integration, the homegrown messaging app Hike already has the payments gateway integrated into the latest version of the messaging app.
UPI’s proliferation into the Google Play Store makes sense as the platform could potentially lead to an increase in the spends on paid apps and purchases of in-app content. However, integration with messaging apps could be more beneficial for individual users who often end up asking their friends of family for small loans every now and then. With a payment system getting integrated into social media and messaging apps, users could end up enjoying a whole new level of convenience, but it remains to be seen just how many users will actually end up using the feature on a regular basis.