WhatsApp mulls foray into digital payments with India launch

MUMBAI, April 4 (Reuters) - Instant messaging app WhatsApp,

owned by Facebook Inc, is mulling a foray into digital

payment services in India, its first such offering globally, and

has advertised to hire a digital transactions lead in the

country.

A WhatsApp move into digital payments in India, its biggest

market that is home to 200 million of its billion plus global

users, would replicate similar moves by messaging apps like

Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat in China.

WhatsApp is working to launch person-to-person payments in

India in the next six months, news website The Ken reported

earlier on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

A job advertisement on WhatsApp's website said it was

looking for a candidate with a technical and financial

background - who understands India's Unified Payments Interface

(UPI) and the BHIM payments app that enable money transfers and

merchant payments using mobile numbers - to be its digital

transactions lead for the country. (http://bit.ly/2oTyOnn)

"India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we're

understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of

Digital India," a WhatsApp spokesman said, referring to a

flagship government programme that aims to boost the use of

Internet-based services in the country.

"We're exploring how we might work with companies that share

this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from

our users," the spokesman said, declining to elaborate further.

Digital transactions in India have surged after Prime

Minister Narendra Modi's shock ban of certain high-value bank

notes in November that accounted for more than 80 percent of the

country's currency in circulation at the time.

In February, WhatsApp's co-founder, Brian Acton, had told

local media that the app was in early stages of investigating

digital payments in the country and that he had talked to the

Indian government about the matter.

Just last week, Swedish communications app Truecaller, which

has a large user base in India, started a mobile payment service

in the country based on the UPI platform.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Euan Rocha and

Himani Sarkar)