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WhatsApp to add payments in messaging app

WhatsApp is preparing to introduce payments to its messaging app, making it the latest service to let users transfer money to one another with a text. 

A beta version of WhatsApp’s next update revealed the service could soon support payments. Pictures emerged of a “Welcome to WhatsApp Payments” screen, which was discovered by the blog WABetaInfo.

WhatsApp, which has more than a billion users a day, is trialing “immediate bank to bank transfer with UPI”. UPI, or Unified Payments Interface, is a payments system run by the Reserve Bank of India, which appears to confirm reports that the payments service would be coming to India first.

It is not clear when WhatsApp payments might be made available in the UK.

An initial release in India, where WhatsApp has been recruiting local payment app experts, would give around 200 million users the ability to transfer money through the app.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has offered peer-to-peer payments on its stand alone Messenger app since 2015. Apple has also been working on its own peer-to-peer payments for its iMessage app, which it is expected to launch with iOS 11.

WhatsApp’s biggest competition in India will be from Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba, which owns payments startup PayTM.

WhatsApp recently said it would be adding a host of new features after it reached the one billion daily users milestone. The company said: “We’re committed more than ever to bringing you more useful features to enjoy, while delivering the reliability, simplicity, and security you expect with WhatsApp.”

Other new WhatsApp features have included trials of the ability to “unsend” messages, which would let users recall messages sent within five minutes, offering a way to prevent embarrassment over mistaken texts.

Other hidden gems on the messaging service include a typerwriter font, bold, italics and strikethrough and the ability to share files automatically from iCloud and Google Drive.

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