Beta no-more: WhatsApp isn’t slowing down, even without an office

Beta no-more: WhatsApp isn’t slowing down, even without an office

  • The Indian government has stated that WhatsApp can’t launch their payments feature until they have an office for it in the country.
  • Meanwhile, Whatsapp's privacy policy for payments no longer says that its a beta product after the latest update.
  • HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are the newest banks to partner with the app.
WhatsApp’s payments feature may not be in beta mode anymore, but the app still needs an office in India with a team installed for them to officially launch their venture. This requirement by the Indian government will further hinder the already delayed launch of the platform’s payment service.

That being said, the removal of the ‘beta product’ tag from WhatsApp’s privacy policy sends the message that the company is moving forward with their launch plan. The update also includes two new banks, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank, that have no been integrated into the service.

Repeated concerns

As per the company’s original plans, the payments service on WhatsApp was set to roll out earlier this year, but the many obstacles have pushed the date back time and again.
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It started off with the pilot not having two-factor authentication, followed by data sharing issues with Facebook and finally, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asked that all payment data needs to be stored within the country.

The particular request for WhatsApp to set up an office specifically for its payment feature is a precautionary step. The government has concerns over who will be held accountable if payments go awry.

To share or not the share?

The updated policy statement lists the terms and conditions that WhatsApp will adhere to while regulating the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and its relationship with partner banks. It includes requirements like phone number registration with banks, existing relationship, KYC etc.

But in light of the recent Cambridge Analytica debacle, more than the payments service, there are concerns over how the data will be shared. While the policy states that Facebook won’t have access to BHIM UPI transaction information in a ‘clear format’, they will be sharing collected data with their service providers that includes Facebook.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has already raised this point in the past along with other concerns over data storage.

WhatsApp’s dossier of problems in India only seems to be growing after being criticised for being the medium to spread fake news and rumours leading to a set of lynching incidents.