Messaging App WhatsApp is about to fully launch its own mobile payment system which Allows the sending of cash via text. Called WhatsApp Pay, the system would work as an alternative to features in other popular apps like PayPal or Monzo.
WhatsApp first launched back in 2009 as a standalone messaging service.
But it has quickly grown to perform lots of features, including offering users video ‘statuses’, group video calls and even customer service from businesses.
Much of this is thanks to Facebook, which bought WhatsApp in 2014 for around £15billion.
Now Facebook’s big plan is to allow for mobile payments on WhatsApp.
The feature is currently being tested in India, but could eventually make it to the UK
But now Facebook said it is preparing to launch the feature fully in the country – serving all 400million users locally.
“It’s a regulatory approval question in India at this point,” Mark Zuckerberg said this week.
He also gave hope for a UK launch, adding: “We’re also working beyond India in many other countries and hope to have this rolled out to a large percent of the people who use the messaging app within the next year.”
The bad news is that Zuckerberg hasn’t confirmed whether the UK will be part of the line-up of countries getting WhatsApp Pay – but it seems likely.
It’s estimated that around 58% of all UK internet users use the Facebook-owned chat app.
Speaking to The Sun, PP Foresight analyst Paolo Pescatore said: “Facebook has struggled to make money from WhatsApp. It needs to find ways to monetize this highly engaged and loyal customer base.
“Payments seems a sensible way but it is fast becoming a crowded base with offerings from the likes of Apple and Google. Telcos are also getting excited about this area.
“Such services resonate in emerging markets but will inevitably be rolled out in other countries like the UK to allow people to make transfers to India.”
But in a statement, WhatsApp global head Will Cathcart said: “We’re excited to have launched a successful pilot of WhatsApp Payments on the UPI standard, and we are looking forward to expanding it.
“WhatsApp Payments will make it as easy to pay someone on the messaging App as it is to send a message.
“Payments services are critical to accelerating financial inclusion and bringing millions of more people into India’s fast-growing digital economy.
“We can’t wait to provide this service to our users across India this year.”
It’s also likely that the messenger will market the payment service heavily on security.
That’s because WhatsApp is a fully encrypted chat app – scrambling your messages so that only the recipient can read them.
The Instant messenger will be keen to make sure that WhatsApp Pay is watertight in terms of privacy.
WhatsApp was created in 2009 by computer programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum – former employees of Yahoo
It’s one of the most popular messaging services in the world
Koum came up with the name WhatsApp because it sounded like “what’s up”
After some tweaks, the app was released with a messaging component in June 2009, with 250,000 active users
It was originally free but switched to a paid service to avoid growing too fast
Facebook bought WhatsApp Inc in February 2014 for $19.3billion (£14.64bn)
The app is particularly popular because all messages are encrypted during transit, shutting out snoopers
As of February 2017, The Messenger has over 1.2 billion users globally
WhatsApp is the most popular chat app in Britain, according to Hootsuite.