This week, in a transformational shift from a social network to a blockchain-led financial entity, Facebook unveiled its much ambitious plan with Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra digital wallet in center of everything. In its audacious plan, Facebook is aiming to use Libra to empower more than 1.7 billion people around the world who currently do not have a bank account and transform financial services across the world.
When Facebook first revealed its cryptocurrency plan in late last year, it was said that the its cryptocurrency will let users transfer money on WhatsApp messaging app and India will be first remittances market Facebook will be focusing at. However, in a reply to queries from TechCrunch, a Calibra spokesperson said that the digital wallet will not be rolling out to a number of markets that have taken a stand against cryptocurrency, or are sanctioned by the United States.
“The Libra Blockchain will be global, but it will be up to custodial wallet providers to determine where they will and will not operate. Calibra won’t be available in U.S.-sanctioned countries or countries that ban cryptocurrencies,” the spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Currently, India along with China and North Korea do not allow trading of cyptocurrencies.
But this has also led to confusion over clear picture of Facebook’s India strategy as WhatsApp already offers a person-to-person (P2P) payments service in India called WhatsApp Pay. In fact, India is the only market where WhatsApp currently offers its payments service.
A WhatsApp spokesperson told TechCrunch that Facebook is committed to the efforts that it has made on WhatsApp Pay, which is built on top of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a payments infrastructure backed by Indian government which is also the foundation of Google’s G Pay and Amazon’s ‘Amazon Pay’ payment apps in India and is driving hundreds of millions of financial transactions in the nation each month.
Data released by government-owned National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), who has developed UPI, revealed that the total UPI transactions reached 799.54 million in March 2019.
Currently, WhatsApp’s payments service is available to one million users in India and the messaging app is working with the government for a nationwide roll-out.