The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is probing allegations against WhatsApp for trying to use its messaging user base to push the case for its digital payment service. According to sources quoted in the Reuters report, the Facebook-owned messaging platform is looking to make inroads into the country’s digital payment ecosystem by bundling its payment feature within the app.
Apparently, the complaint was filed in mid-March by an unidentified lawyer and it has not been talked about before this. The complaint highlights that WhatsApp two features; messenger service and payments feature offered through the same platform could affect prospects of its competition in the market, thereby violating the antitrust laws of the country.
WhatsApp Pay has been available to over 1 million users in the country for quite sometime. The platform has been unable to convince the country’s government to let it formally launch the service, which will compete against Google Pay, Paytm and other UPI-centric apps available to mobile users in the country. The feature lets users link their bank account via UPI and giving them quick access to make payments without having to leave the messaging app.
This week’s development adds to WhatsApp concerns with regards to the formal launch of its payment service. The platform claims to have over 400 million users in the country, and it is likely the complaint is trying to alert the authorities about its influence in the country’s digital payment sector.
Back in April, a case was filed in the Supreme Court which said WhatsApp’s Payment service should not be allowed to operate in the country as it was allegedly violating data storage rules. In its defence, WhatsApp told the court it will comply with necessary laws before it moves ahead. This news will come as a jolt to the company, which had reportedly secured a licence from National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for its payment service, as mentioned in a Business Standard report. WhatsApp was expected to roll out its payment solutions phased manner, by offering the feature to 10 million of users in the country.