WhatsApp to launch digital payments in Indonesia

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WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, is reportedly in talks with multiple digital payments firms as well as a state-owned bank to launch digital payment services in Indonesia, Cointelegraph reports.

The initial report came from Reuters, which said that it had learned of the development from anonymous sources on 20th August. Cointelegraph said, “According to the report, WhatsApp is currently negotiating with transportation booking service Go-Jek, mobile payments provider DANA, fintech startup OVO and state-owned Bank Mandiri. Bank Mindri operates a digital wallet service.”

According to Reuters the plan is to support payments through digital wallets in the region. This has led to speculation that “Facebook’s dealings in Indonesia could become a template that they later use to dodge local regulations, pertaining to bans on foreign digital wallets.”

Facebook confirmed that WhatsApp is talking to financial partners in Indonesia, but decline to give further details. But Reuters’ sources claimed that deals with the three payments firms are due to be concluded imminently. However, it is unlikely that the new service will be available this year and is more likely to launch in 2020, when WhatsApp also plans to launch in India. According to the report, Facebook is still waiting on regulatory approval from India before they can launch WhatsApp-based payments.

As we know, Facebook plans to integrate its crypto wallet service, Calibra, into WhatsApp and all of its platforms. However, Calibra will not be available in India, or any countries with a ban on cryptocurrency. A Calibra spokesperson commented on this in April, saying: “The libra blockchain will be global, but it will be up to custodial wallet providers to determine where they will and will not operate. Calibra won’t be available in U.S.-sanctioned countries or countries that ban cryptocurrencies.”

So far that rules out India, but that need not be the end of the story for WhatsApp in India. Much may depend on governments watching how it operates in Indonesia.

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