Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said India's building of local capabilities and tech capacity can power innovative new businesses. Photo: AFP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lauded India’s Unified Payments Interface system, a real-time digital payment services platform, and said other countries could benefit from following India’s lead.

The platform facilitates inter-bank transactions and was developed by National Payments Corporation of India in 2016. Currently, almost all major digital payment players including Google Pay, Walmart-owned Phone Pe and Paytm use this platform. Facebook also recently launched its WhatsApp Pay on the platform and will be extending its services across the country in a graded manner. It hopes to tap the 400 million users of the WhatsApp messenger platform.

While taking part at the virtual event Facebook Fuel along with Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Zuckerberg said, “We just launched WhatsApp payments in India last month – now you can send money to your friends and family through WhatsApp, as easily as sending a message.”

The Facebook chief said the launch of WhatsApp Pay was possible in India because of the Unified Payments Interface system. “I think we are working with 140 banks or it’s supported by 140 banks. India is the first country in the world to do anything like this. So, we’re grateful to be able to support this kind of innovation and to help to work, to create more prosperity, and help achieve a more Digital India,” he added.

Zuckerberg said India’s building of local capabilities and tech capacity can power innovative new businesses. What happens in India is important for the whole world as decisions made in the country shape the global discussion about how technology can drive more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. He noted that Facebook now tests its products and new features in India before rolling them out globally.

The Facebook chief said nearly 700 million people in India have access to the Internet and that it is fueling innovation in various fields including entertainment, healthcare and education. He said Facebook is focused on driving recovery in 2021 by working with small businesses in India.

While taking part at the event, Ambani said India’s push towards digitization will democratize wealth and value creation for individuals and small businesses. He added that in the next two decades, India will grow to be among the top three economies in the world and a premier digital society, with young people driving it.

He also thanked Zuckerberg for picking up a minority stake in Jio Platform, the digital arm of Reliance. “I have no hesitation in going on record that it is your investment that set the ball rolling. Not only for Jio, but for the Indian foreign direct investment which has been the largest-ever in its history. And our partnership between Jio and Facebook, will actually demonstrate that it is great for India, Indians, and small Indian businesses,” Ambani said.