Last week, Facebook-owned WhatsApp started rolling out its peer-to-peer UPI-based Payments feature in India that allows users to send and receive money within the messaging app. Though not officially announced as yet, the feature has rolled out to a number of Android users already. Notably, the payments feature will directly pit WhatsApp against other e-wallet companies like Paytm, Mobikwik and Google Tez. Paytm, which is the biggest payments platform in India right now, is understandably on edge, and this is reflected in co-founder Vijay Shekhar Sharmas recent tweets.
Sharma took to Twitter to express his thoughts about WhatsApps latest payments feature, accusing parent company Facebook of killing the open UPI system by launching the feature. After failing to win war against Indias open Internet with cheap tricks of free basics, Facebook is again in play. Killing beautiful open UPI system with its custom close garden implementation. I am surprised, champions of open @India_Stack, let it happen! Sharma tweeted. In a recent interview, Sharma called Facebook the most evil tech company in the world.
WhatsApps payments feature does not require a login session and Aadhaar-based payments, which the Paytm founder feels is a security concern, Economic Times reports. He added that lack of login requirement makes WhatsApp a security risk, likening it to giving an open ATM to everyone. How can you give such a security risk just in the name of underwriting that banks have given. WhatsApp is used by gullible Indian consumers far more than any other application in this country, he told ET.
The Paytm founder said that he will raise the issue with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and higher authorities. He questioned that WhatsApp was allowed to pilot its payments feature with lakhs of customers rather than keeping it limited to 5,000 to 10,000 users. Meanwhile, sources close to NPCI say that it will implement the required security features when WhatsApp Payment goes live for everyone.
Sharmas rant on WhatsApps payments feature has been criticised by a number of people on Twitter who feel that the founder is concerned about facing a stiff competition from the messaging service once the feature goes official and widespread in India. E-wallet company Mobikwik also lashed out on Sharmas post, saying that Paytm refused to entertain neutral payment options like Mobikwik on Paytm Mall. Those complaining abt Whatsapp are the same folks who refuse to entertain neutral payment options (like @MobiKwik ) on their own ecom websites/apps and instead promote only captive wallets, Mobikwik co-founder Bipin Preet Singh tweeted.
Freecharge co-founder Kunal Shah also followed along the same lines and tweeted,All companies threatened by WhatsApp payments are going to tag it as anti-national and try to pull it down as it is hard to win on merit against network effects of WhatsApp. Following these comments from competitors, Sharma clarified that his remarks were not to be taken in the context of domestic versus foreign rivals. Quite a few of us havent yet understood the matter and are passing such colored judgment. I wanted to make it clear it is in no way Indian vs foreign company conversation, Sharma tweeted.
WhatsApp Payments, when it goes live, will have already achieved strong numbers since there are over 200 million active users in India currently. Meanwhile, Paytm has had to work hard over the years to reach a similar user base as of February 2017. The fact the WhatsApp Payments adds a convenience factor as users will not have to download third-party apps to make peer-to-peer transfers is something that most competitors like Paytm will be concerned about. There is no denying that WhatsApps current feature is riddled with security risks, and we will have to wait and see how the messaging app secures it once the feature goes live.