WhatsApp launches pilot to enable financial inclusion across 500 villages in Karnataka, Maharashtra

WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose said the pilot aims to effect a behavioral transformation to digital payments at the grassroots.

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WhatsApp said the initial results from the pilot program have been encouraging and people have begun adopting 'payments on WhatsApp' as a new mode of payments. (Photo source: Reuters)

Messaging platform WhatsApp on Wednesday said it has rolled out a pilot program across 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra, aimed at empowering villagers with access to digital payments through ‘payments on WhatsApp’. The announcement was made at Fuel For India 2021 – Meta’s annual event in India.

WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose said the pilot aims to effect a behavioral transformation to digital payments at the grassroots. “At WhatsApp, we are committed to help accelerate financial inclusion in the country. We have started this pilot program in 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra as part of our mission to onboard the next 500 million to the digital payments ecosystem,” he said.

WhatsApp’s ease of use and reliability can promote the adoption of UPI with users across, including those at the bottom of the pyramid, he added.”We will continue to contribute meaningfully in this journey of educating users at the grassroots, so they can trust digital payments, as they gradually make the transition from a ‘cash-only’ way of financial life,” Bose said.

The pilot called ‘Digital Payments Utsav’ started rolling out on October 15, in Kyathanahalli village in Mandya district of Karnataka, where on-ground facilitators familiarised villagers with various aspects of digital payments including – signing up for UPI, setting up a UPI account and safety best practices of using digital payments.

WhatsApp said the initial results from the pilot program have been encouraging and people have begun adopting ‘payments on WhatsApp’ as a new mode of payments. Business owners and scores of people are accepting and receiving payments digitally using ‘payments on WhatsApp’. As part of WhatsApp’s India roadmap for payments, the platform will continue to make significant investments behind ‘payments on WhatsApp’ over the next six months, in order to accelerate its growth across India.

Payments on WhatsApp is a key partner to NPCI and RBI in achieving the shared objective of scaling the adoption of UPI and enabling financial inclusion for those most in need, it said.

In November, the Meta (formerly Facebook)-owned company had announced that it has been granted permission to double its user base for the payments service to 40 million by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).WhatsApp has over 400 million users in India and competes against players like Google Pay, Paytm and PhonePe.

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