WhatsApp pilot program adopts 500 Indian villages to promote digital payments

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Meta-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday announced its pilot program of adopting 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra aiming to empower people with access to digital payments through ‘payments on WhatsApp’.

The announcement was made at Fuel For India 2021 — Meta’s annual event in India, that showcases the positive impact and socio-economic transformation delivered by its family of apps.

The program aims to cause a behavioral transformation to digital payments at the grassroots, the company said.

“At WhatsApp, we are committed to helping 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,” – Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp

“We believe that WhatsApp’s ease of use and reliability can promote the adoption of UPI with users across, including those at the bottom of the pyramid. 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 added.

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

The initial results from the pilot program showed villagers adopting ‘payments on WhatsApp’ as a new mode of payments.

From village-grocery stores to the beauty parlor and scores of other people and small and medium businesses are now accepting and receiving payments digitally using ‘payments on WhatsApp’, the company said.

“People sometimes don’t want to come all the way to the shop, instead, they just give me their list and location on WhatsApp and I deliver orders to them. I can also receive payments from them on WhatsApp,” said Anil K.R, a poultry shop owner at Kyathanahalli.

Further, to push digital access, WhatsApp recently also placed the rupee symbol in its chat-composer.

In addition, WhatsApp has equipped its main camera to scan QR codes, adding another layer of convenience for users of payments on WhatsApp, to enable access to 20 million QR-accepting stores in the country.

The company said it will continue to make significant investments in ‘payments on WhatsApp’ over the next six months, in order to accelerate its growth across India.

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