Whatsapp allowed beta test with limited user base, low transaction limit

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) today said it has allowed WhatsApp to beta test its payments service with limited user base of one million and low transaction limit.

Whats App payment service will rival the likes of Paytm, whose founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has been critical of the Facebook-owned company and has even alleged that the US firm was getting unfair advantage.

“Currently, NPCI has given its consent to roll out WhatsApp BHIM UPI beta launch with limited user base of one million and low per transaction limit. Four banks will join the multi-bank BHIM UPI model in phases (in the coming weeks) and full feature product shall be released after the beta test is successful,” NPCI said in a statement.

It added that multi-bank model offers advantages such as transaction load distribution between banks and helps to integrate popular apps easily with BHIM UPI.

NPCI said its broad principles for inter-operability include ability to send and receive money through any BHIM UPI ID, intent and collect call and, read and generate BHIM/Bharat QR code that are required in final BHIM UPI app.

“BHIM UPI enabled app which fulfils such principles only will be permissible for full scale-public launch,” it emphasised.

NPCI — an umbrella organization for all retail payments in India — asserted that it follows “well-defined guidelines” for BHIM UPI services with the objective of making its platforms “inter-operable and based on open standards, convenient and secure”.

Sharma had raised a storm after Facebook-owned WhatsApp started testing payments through its platform. He alleged that WhatsApp’s UPI payment platform has security risks for consumers and is not in compliance with the guidelines.

Alleging Facebook of having “arm-twisted” UPI to derive benefits, Sharma had said Facebook was “killing beautiful open UPI system with its custom close garden implementation.”

Emails sent to WhatsApp for their response remained unanswered.
Paytm spokesperson said NPCI statement addresses the concerns of interoperability violation that it had raised and also clarifies that the trial has been restricted to 1 million users.

“We feel that a product with the stated violations could have been tried out amongst a much smaller base. We are still concerned that this statement is silent on the critical issue of safety/security of a financial transaction through UPI, where consumers need to mandatorily sign-in with username and password. This violation is fundamental and very serious,” the spokesperson said.

The Paytm spokesperson said that NCPI statement is also silent on other issues such as the requirement to send SMS notifications for every UPI transaction.

“We hope that future roll out will be fully compliant with all the guidelines. We wait to hear NPCI views on some of these missing aspects,” the spokesperson added.

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