With an aim to give a push to WhatsApp Pay, the Meta-owned messaging giant has announced a collaboration at this year’s Fuel for India event. The collaboration will help people adopt digital payments in 500 villages, spread across Karnataka and Maharashtra. The aim is to make rural India well acquainted with digital payments as it still lagging behind in the department. WhatsApp has announced the Digital Payments Utsav program to expand the reach of digital payments in rural areas of India. To make this a reality, the messaging platform has partnered with Bengaluru-based rural-development company 1Bridge. The pilot program has been introduced in 500 villages across Karnatak and Maharastra and is a part of its initiative to have a 500 million user base of WhatsApp Pay in India. The pilot program started on October 15 in Kyathanahalli village in the Mandya district of Karnataka. It educates the villagers by giving them information on how to set up UPI, sign into UPI, and other basic digital payments-related details.
Following the pilot program, many villagers came to know about the advantages of digital payments. Kyathanahalli village’s Panchayat member stated that “withdrawing money from banks in villages used to be tedious and time-consuming and ATMs also don’t usually have cash.” He further stated, “Things have become much easier because of payments on WhatsApp.” WhatsApp and 1Bridge are expected to continue educating people in rural India so that more and more people adopt using the service. Commenting on the same, Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp, said, “We believe that WhatsApp’s ease of use and reliability can promote the adoption of UPI with users across, including those at the bottom of the pyramid. We will continue to contribute meaningfully in this journey of educating users at the grassroots, so they can trust digital payments, as they gradually make the transition from a ‘cash-only’ way of financial life.” This new initiative comes after it was recently announced that WhatsApp will make further investments to make WhatsApp Pay more popular in India. NPCI also increased the payments service’s userbase cap from 20 million to 40 million.