Paytm’s founder Vijay Sharma on Wednesday took to Twitter to denounce what he termed as unfair competitive advantage allotted to WhatsApp, after the latter was allowed to start a payment service without fulfilling many critical mandatory rules. Sharma’s salvo on Twitter comes barely days after the Facebook-owned Whatsapp announced that it would start payment service in India on a trial basis.
Sharma minced no words as he accused Facebook of monopolizing Unified Payments Interface (UPI) by the virtue of its money power and clout within the government agencies.
“After failing to win war against India’s open Internet with cheap tricks of free basics, Facebook is again in play. Killing beautiful open UPI system with its custom close garden implementation. I am surprised, champions of open @India_Stack, let it happen!” Sharma tweeted.
Speaking to Economic Times, Sharma claimed that the UPI ecosystem was built for Indian companies and not for any American company to monopolize it. He also claimed that WhatsApp payment service is prone to risk, since NPCI (regulatory body of UPI) has not mandated WhatsApp to demand Aadhaar card and other details from customers to facilitate the payment service. Paytm’s founder says granting such exceptions to the popular message servicing app is completely unwarranted.
Is Sharma unnerved by the competition?
Logically, Sharma has all the reasons to get unnerved by Whatsapp’s entry in the payment space. This despite the fact that Whatsapp’s initial payment service will be restricted to only peer-to-peer and also its service is based on UPI system.
The reason for Sharma’s insomnia is the fact that Whatsapp is the de facto messaging service app for millions of Indians today. At present nearly 200 million Indians use Whatsapp service. This mindboggling number can prove to be a huge boon for Whatsapp as and when it grows its payment service and becomes a direct competitor of Whatsapp.
Another factor that can add to Sharma’s woes is the fact that Whatsapp payment service boosts simplest of interface amongst all the competitors. Its interface is even simpler than Google Tez app, which was launched few months back. The simple interface is largely because of the special exception allotted to it by NPCI.
However, NPCI says that these exceptions are not absolute. People close to the agency have claimed that Whatsapp will have to follow all the mandated rules (like all other players) once its launches its service on full fledge basis.