A WhatsApp application logo, center, on a smartphone screen. Photo: AFP

WhatsApp may finally roll out its digital payment service WhatsApp Pay in India after a protracted dispute over data localization. WhatsApp’s parent Facebook has reportedly complied with the data localization norms laid down by the Reserve Bank of India, the Business Standard reported, quoting sources.

WhatsApp had begun a pilot project in the country two years ago, but it could not scale it up as it had initially resisted the Indian government’s stand on data localization. The messenger app was reportedly storing various payment data elements outside India which include transaction ID, expiry of collect request, retrieval reference numbers and other data elements.

The government had also objected to the absence of a local grievance officer in India.

Now that it has complied with the Indian government’s regulations, WhatsApp Pay is bracing to face rivals in the Unified Payments Interface platform, a state-run financial payments platform developed by the National Payments Corporation of India.

They include Alphabet-owned Google Pay, Walmart-owned PhonePe and home-grown startup unicorn Paytm.

Whatsapp’s messaging platform now has more than 400 million users and has an average monthly download of 30.8 million. Even the National Payments Corporation has only 150 million customers and the monthly download of digital payment market leader Google Pay is 15.5 million.

WhatsApp is hoping to tap its large messenger user base for its payment services.

In addition, Facebook recently picked up a 9.9% stake in Reliance Industries’ digital arm Jio Platforms and WhatsApp has entered into a tie-up with Reliance’s e-commerce platform JioMart. The messaging platform helps the user place an order, which is notified to the nearest listed grocery store.

There is a move to integrate JioMart into WhatsApp with WhatsApp Pay as a payment option. Nearly three months after the launch, JioMart now has seven million subscribers and is looking to expand beyond groceries to electronics, fashion, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

In select cities, JioMart is also delivering daily essentials such as milk, bread and fruit.

WhatsApp is also working with banks to offer financial services such as credit, pension products and insurance targeted at lower-income groups, mainly in rural areas.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.