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Facebook-owned messaging company WhatsApp has recently launched peer-to-peer digital payments beta service in India. The entry of the messaging app, which has more than 200 million monthly active users, is expected to disrupt the unified payments interface (UPI)-based digital payments landscape in India, currently dominated by Paytm, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Reportedly, Facebook is working with top lenders, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank, to integrate the UPI-based payments solution.

Prarthna Tiga, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “E-payments in India are already witnessing unprecedented growth since the government’s announcement of demonetisation in late 2016. Now with the foray of WhatsApp, the country’s smaller and struggling e-payments companies fear a unique threat in an already crowded and competitive ecosystem.”

The Indian payments marketspace is already swarmed with over 60 non-banking players such as Paytm, MobiKwik, Amazon Pay and Flipkart (PhonePe). Established players such as Paytm are also feeling the push and fear that their position will be challenged with the entry of WhatsApp payments.

While the messaging platform is the latest entrant, Google launched its payment app, Tez, in September 2016. It is creating fervour in the digital payments landscape, with transactions surpassing the likes of Axis Bank, one of the top digital players among banks.

However, it is interesting to note that even though India’s e-payments market is expected to grow in the coming years, most e-wallet operators are not profitable in India yet. In fact, some who have been issued licenses by the Reserve Bank of India are still evaluating the situation before setting up operations.

Tiga concludes: “We expect consolidations to be the force in the next few years, with the bigger players focusing on opportunities to expand their footprint in India and other markets. In the meantime, smaller e-payments players are tapping into unidentified opportunities to stay relevant in the market.

“Therefore, creating a compelling case for people to use digital money is becoming absolutely necessary for smaller players, while bigger players are taking advantage of their wide user base.”

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