Previously, WhatsApp was only permitted to offer its payment service to 40 million Indian users.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp has received regulatory approval to more than double the number of users of its payments service in India to 100 million.
WhatsApp has repeatedly told the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that there should be no limit on the number of people who can use its payments service in India, its largest market.
Instead, the NPCI informed the company on Wednesday that it can increase the number of users to 100 million from the current 40 million, according to the sources.
WhatsApp did not respond immediately to a request for comment. In a statement to Reuters, the NPCI confirmed the development.
Though the relaxation will be welcomed, the new cap may still limit WhatsApp’s growth prospects in India, where it has more than 500 million users.
WhatsApp has told the NPCI several times that it wants to operate “without a cap,” but one of the sources believes that allowing all of its users to access the payments service – integrated with the app and allowing contacts to send funds to each other – could strain the country’s financial infrastructure.
After years of attempting to comply with Indian regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally, the NPCI granted WhatsApp permission to launch the payments service in 2020.
It began with 20 million users and was raised to 40 million in November of last year.
In India’s crowded digital market, WhatsApp competes with Alphabet’s Google Pay, SoftBank and Ant Group-backed Paytm, and Walmart’s PhonePe.
Online transactions, lending, and e-wallet services have been rapidly expanding in India, owing to a government push to convert the country’s cash-loving merchants and consumers to digital payments.