WhatsApp payments service under pressure in India – yet again

WhatsApp payments service under pressure in India – yet again

WhatsApp’s plans to launch a mobile payments service in India may have been derailed yet again after it emerged that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is investigating the company for abusing its market dominance.

The messaging service first revealed plans to launch a payments offering in India in February 2018. After initially meeting difficulty over issues around data storage, this year its proposals finally received full clearance from the country’s regulator after Whatsapp assured India’s Supreme Court that it would comply with data storage regulation.

WhatsApp is now preparing a trial deployment to 10 million of its 400 million Indian customers ahead of a full rollout this year – possibly even by the end of this month, according to financial outlet Moneycontrol.

However, Reuters reports that the CCI is now investigating a claim received in March alleging that WhatsApp was folding its payment offering into messaging bundles without providing an opt-out. Given WhatsApp’s large customer base, the complainant argues that this would give the payment offering an unfair advantage over competitors such as Google Pay and PayTM.

Bundling the services together could place WhatsApp in violation of Indian antitrust laws. Reuters also noted that the case has been brought against both WhatsApp and its parent firm Facebook, although the complainant has only demanded that the CCI investigate WhatsApp’s activities.

Reuters cited an anonymous source as saying: “The case is in initial stages…senior members of CCI are reviewing it but a final decision hasn’t been reached.”

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