WhatsApp may soon ask users to verify their identity to make payments [Update: Statement]

WhatsApp may soon ask users to verify their identity to make payments [Update: Statement]

Update 1 (10/26/2021 @ 08:07 ET): WhatsApp (India) reached out with a statement. Scroll to the bottom for more information. The article as published on October 25, 2021, is preserved below.

WhatsApp may soon ask users to verify their identity to make payments on the platform. New strings spotted in the latest WhatsApp beta release suggest that the messenger will require users to upload verification documents to continue using payments on WhatsApp.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Currently, when you set up WhatsApp Pay in India, the service only verifies the phone number linked to your bank account to enable UPI-based transactions. In Brazil, the messenger uses Facebook Pay to validate users’ credit or debit cards to facilitate payments. At the moment, the service doesn’t require users to submit any identity verification documents to make payments. However, that might change soon.

WhatsApp v2.21.22.6 beta includes a few new strings which suggest that users might have to submit identity verification documents to continue using payments.

<string name="notification_payment_document_reupload_step_up_required_message">"Your identity couldn't be verified. Try uploading the documents again."</string>
<string name="notification_payment_document_reupload_step_up_required_title">WhatsApp Support</string>
<string name="notification_payment_document_upload_step_up_required_message">Verify your identity to continue using payments on Whatsapp.</string>
<string name="notification_payment_document_upload_step_up_required_title">WhatsApp Support</string>

While we’re not sure why WhatsApp would want users to verify their identity to make payments, we think it could be due to a couple of different reasons.

Speculation: Why WhatsApp could ask for identity verification to make payments

  • The messenger might be preparing to launch WhatsApp Pay in a new region. The identity verification mentioned in the strings above could just be a legal requirement in that region. If that’s the case, WhatsApp Pay users in India and Brazil won’t be required to submit any documents.
  • The identity verification might be limited to those who use WhatsApp Pay to receive payments for their businesses.
  • UPI-based apps, like Google Pay, PhonePe, and even WhatsApp Pay don’t require users to submit any documents to transfer or receive money. However, wallet apps like PayTM do ask for KYC verification as per RBI guidelines. This leads us to believe that WhatsApp could be working on a wallet feature for WhatsApp Pay, which would require users to submit identification documents. But we’ve seen no other evidence related to a wallet feature, so far.

WhatsApp is yet to make an official announcement regarding this change. Since the new strings have just made their way to the beta version, it might be a while before the company reveals any details. We’ll make sure to let you know as soon as we have more info.


Update: Statement from WhatsApp

A WhatsApp India spokesperson reached out to present the following statement on this article:

“In India, Payments on WhatsApp does not require any verification documents. Payments on WhatsApp, is approved by National Payments Corporation of India and powered by BHIM UPI that enables transactions with legitimate banking partners. Like other UPI payment applications, a user needs to ensure that the mobile number is the same as the one linked to their bank account,to start sending and receiving money, through payments on WhatsApp.”

And they are right. WhatsApp Pay currently does not require any verification documents in India. However, our article relates to a future possibility, which is neither affirmed nor denied in the statement.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.