Why is Paytm founder venting his ire over WhatsApp pay?

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 15, 2018

In a sudden twist in the Indian digital payments portal sector, popular digital wallet service Paytm's founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has accused WhatsApp of following an unfair playing field after the latter rolled out its payments service a few days ago.

In a tweet on February 14, the founder and CEO of Paytm accused WhatsApp of using the Indian government-backed Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to create a closed garden by restricting transactions to its own users only. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has asked messaging app WhatsApp to restrict its peer-to-peer payments service to only 1% of its more than 200 million users here in India and adhere to all the procedural guidelines of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

"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.

Emails sent to WhatsApp for their response remained unanswered. "We are welcoming all new entrants, whether it is Facebook or Google, as they grow the digital payments ecosystem. For now, we have kept all our options open and will go to the regulator highlighting the blatant flouting of regulations by WhatsApp", he said. NPCI MD & CEO Dilip Asbe did not offer any comment on Paytm's allegations.

According to sources, WhatsApp’s global business head, Neeraj Arora resigned from the board of directors of Paytm’s parent - One97 Communications earlier this month. In a tweet, Sharma had said, "After failing to win war against India’s open internet with cheap tricks of free basics, Facebook is again in play. Killing attractive open UPI system with its custom close garden implementation", he wrote on the platform. "I am surprised, champions of open @India_Stack, let it happen!"

The new WhatsApp payment feature works on the government-authorized UPI platform, which helps in linking bank accounts for direct money transfer.

"Our objection to WhatsApp's UPI payments system is not about competition, but fair play". PayU India CEO Amrish Rau, Freecharge founder Kunal Shah and MobiKwik founder Bipin Preet Singh were some of the prominent names from the industry who engaged on the matter on Wednesday.

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