WhatsApp has announced the launch of a programme to adopt 500 villages in Karnataka and Maharashtra as part of the company’s push to promote digital payments in the country. WhatsApp offers a payment service in the country that is based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). The company announced the Digital Payments Utsav programme at its Fuel For India 2021 annual event, with the goal of helping the “next 500 million” users join the digital payments ecosystem, and shared results of its two-month pilot programme.
On Wednesday, WhatsApp revealed that the pilot of the programme called Digital Payments Utsav began on October 15, and the company partnered with 1Bridge to interact with residents of Kyathanahalli village in Karnataka’s Mandya district. The company says that villagers were taught how to sign up for UPI and set up an account, as well as the best practices while making UPI payments.
According to WhatsApp, the response to the Digital Payments Utsav pilot programme has been positive, with small businesses such as grocery stores, poultry shops, and salon owners adopting the company’s ‘payments on WhatsApp’ offering. The company also quotes Chidananda KJ, a gram panchayat member, who stated: “Withdrawing money from banks in villages used to be tedious and time-consuming and ATMs also don’t usually have cash. Things have become much easier because of payments on WhatsApp.”
WhatsApp recently updated its popular chat application with a new rupee symbol shortcut in the chat composer window, making it easier for users who have signed up for the company’s payment service to send and receive funds in the app. The icon is visible to all users, irrespective of whether they use the UPI feature or not. WhatsApp previously updated the app with the ability to scan Quick Response (QR) codes to make payments at stores easier, a feature also supported on apps like Google Pay.