Paytm, WhatsApp get into tug of war over digital payment services in India

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Paytm, WhatsApp get into tug of war over digital payment services in India
Paytm, WhatsApp get into tug of war over digital payment services in India

New Delhi : As digital payment provider Paytm and WhatsApp got into a tug of war after the Facebook-owned platform announced a soft launch of its own digital payment service for India, a top Paytm executive said on Thursday that their objection is not about the upcoming competition but lack of fair play.

According to Deepak Abbot, Senior Vice President, Paytm, WhatsApp has custom-implemented Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system which is not secure and flouts norms laid out by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that has developed the UPI system.

"Our objection to WhatsApp's UPI payments system is not about competition, but fair play. The company has custom-implemented UPI to affect the platform's core principle of inter-operability," Abbot said in a statement given to IANS.

"WhatsApp has also refuted the UPI mandate by not allowing customers to pay using Bank Account + IFSC or Aadhaar number and not issuing UPI QRs," he added.

According to Abbot, there is no "Request Money" feature or additional security measure like "App password" in the WhatsApp digital payment gateway.

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has also demanded a level-playing field for all UPI-based apps.

According to sources, in the WhatsApp's iOS beta app, one cannot send money to non-WhatsApp customers while in Paytm or other digital payment platforms, they can.

Even in WhatsApp's Android beta app, the option to send money to non-WhatsApp customers is well hidden behind six steps/screens, they added.

"This measure by Facebook has made payments challenging for non-Whatsapp users," Abbot said.

WhatsApp was yet to issue a statement regarding these queries.

According to the sources, BHIM-UPI branding isn't used anywhere in WhatsApp while other digital payment platforms comply with the mandate.

Any transaction in India needs three-step authentication to make online and mobile payment safe for consumer.

"In the case of WhatsApp, this has clearly been ignored as one doesn't need any password to login to the app, which put Indian users at great risk while they integrate their Whatsapp with their bank account," the sources said.

Triggering the debate, Paytm founder Sharma had tweeted: "After failing to win war against India's 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!"

"Microsoft did this to open web standards. WhatsApp is doing this to UPI, openly in front of everyone," Sharma added.

His remarks came after WhatsApp rolled out the testing phase of its digital payment feature in India -- a first such move globally -- which will be officially rolled out to over 200 million Indian users in the days to come.

WhatsApp's Vice President Neeraj Arora has already stepped down from the board of Paytm, a position which he held since 2015.