Did Meta's Stranglehold Derail WhatsApp Pay's Success In India?

Despite its potential for fast peer-to-peer transactions, Meta’s control over WhatsApp Pay — the messaging giant’s equivalent of Google Pay and Amazon Pay, created significant hurdles, hampering its success in the Indian UPI space.

What Happened? A MoneyControl report highlights parent company Meta, based in Menlo Park, played a significant role in WhatsApp’s lack of success in the competitive UPI space. Meta tightly controlled all aspects of WhatsApp’s India operation, from banking relationships and design to marketing budgets.

This control frustrated the local team and resulted in the departure of senior executives Abhijit Bose, Manesh Mahatme, and Vinay Choletti. Currently, there’s no country head for the payments division in India.

See also: Meta Tightens Its Belt: Major Exec Exits In India Amid Global Layoff Plan

Despite initial fears from National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) executives and bankers that WhatsApp could swiftly dominate the market, this did not materialise. NPCI even established a 30% market cap for third-party UPI apps in anticipation of WhatsApp’s entry. However, by the end of 2022, it was clear that WhatsApp would not significantly disrupt the market, disappointing many who wanted it to succeed.

Meta’s unwillingness to accommodate local requirements for the smooth operation was a significant issue. For instance, Meta insisted on using global banking relationships rather than allowing WhatsApp Pay to work with local Indian banks, which is essential for running UPI operations in India. Further, any necessary changes specific to India required approval from Meta in the US, slowing down decision-making and execution.

Read next: UPI-Related Frauds Dominate Digital Payments Landscape In India, Report Finds

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