Our reportage on WhatsApp UPI and its mass launch has been denied by Whatsapp. In a statement to Medianama WhatsApp said that the UPI feature is still in beta and testing period and not available for all Indian users. The instant messaging platform emphasised, “We do not have a launch date set…”
While we regret calling it a ‘mass launch’, faced with no response from Whatsapp, we did our own due diligence. Our final story was based on hundreds of people who were able to access WhatsApp UPI both by updating the app and through an invite.
After a tip-off from a friend on Tuesday, we at Entrackr asked over 50 users to update the app and about 70 per cent of them accessed the payment feature.
Those who were not able to access the feature by updating could use the feature after receiving the setup offer through an invite from any other user. Around 5,000 people, by one way or the other, were able to access payment feature in the app, a number we considered significant enough to confirm our premise in this case.
Importantly, after linking a bank account with UPI, we have been able to send instant invites (through notification) to about 300 people. Through the notification, many successfully linked their bank accounts while some experienced glitches like ‘network error’ and others.
So one possibility is that WhatsApp might have increased the number of users of beta testing from 1 million but there is no clarification regarding this.
Even though WhatsApp has not responded to our story, we are in the process of contacting their reps for clarification and further insights.
Over the past five days, we have been sending/receiving money to/from many friends across different cities including rural and remote areas. The three-day seamless experience of inviting virtually anyone from our phone book (We collectively have over 5,000 phone numbers through individual phone books) was nothing less than mass launch for us.
Notably, Entrackr also has exclusively spotted QR-based payment feature in WhatsApp UPI with a transfer limit upto Rs 5,000.
It’s worth noting that invite-based access for WhatsApp UPI was started in February but was limited to a select users only. The mass invite options seem to have begun this week only. Even apart from people we have invited, many of you must have experienced UPI this week.
With the latest statement, WhatsApp UPI seems to be a little away from getting a final go-ahead nod from government agencies before a full roll-out. Of course, they have had their share of issues around data sharing and one-sided terms and conditions
Nevertheless, the point of writing this post is to clarify that the WhatsApp UPI launch story based on our actual checks and usage on a significant scale. These collective experiences were the basis for the report.