WhatsApp Pay reportedly coming to Indonesia to facilitate cheap money transfers between banks

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Popular instant messaging app WhatsApp is said to be bringing its own e-payment feature to Indonesia, though reports coming from the country suggest that its functions may be limited.

An exclusive report by Reuters published yesterday revealed that the Facebook-owned messaging service is in advanced talks with multiple Indonesian digital payment firms to offer their mobile transaction services, which are believed to fall under a feature in the app named WhatsApp Pay. 

While details about the talks are not yet clear, the report said that, if a deal were to materialize, WhatsApp would serve as a platform supporting payments via local digital wallets in order to skirt foreign business regulations, rather than offering direct peer-to-peer payment services.

Today, a source close to the matter told Kontan that WhatsApp Pay’s entry will be facilitated by merchant aggregator PT Alto Halo Digital International (AHDII), which has already brought Chinese e-payment services WeChat Pay and AliPay into Indonesia (albeit with some controversy).

But the source said that WhatsApp Pay will only support inter-bank money transfers in Indonesia, the advantage of which would be that the system’s simplicity would allow for some cost-cutting

“Transfer fees between banks exist because they had to build infrastructure [to facilitate the process]. The IDR6,500 (US$0.46) charge is divided up between sender bank, receiving bank, switching firms and more. With WhatsApp, the infrastructure is just the user’s phone, so the fee can be cheap,” the source told Kontan, adding that the fee could be as low as IDR500.

AHDI has denied that it would facilitate WhatsApp Pay’s entry into Indonesia, but acknowledged that its features would be “simple”.

Digital payment platforms Go-Pay, Ovo and Dana, all of which were reported by Reuters to be in advanced negotiations with WhatsApp, have all been tight-lipped about any potential deal with the messaging service. 

WhatsApp Pay is slated to make its debut in India this year, where it will offer direct peer-to-peer payment services. However, its launch in the country has been delayed due to local data storage rules.

Related: Indonesia sets new e-payment record in July with IDR12.93 trillion in transactions

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