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WhatsApp to ask users for ID verification?

WhatsApp Payments, stuck owing to India’s demand to store data locally, has not gone beyond the beta testing it did with nearly one million users last year.
WhatsApp Payments, stuck owing to India’s demand to store data locally, has not gone beyond the beta testing it did with nearly one million users last year. (Bloomberg)

WhatsApp could ask users to verify their identity in a future update. WhatsApp verification may include submission of documents. This latest WhatsApp report is based on new strings spotted in the latest beta, according to a new report. Here’s everything you need to know.

WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging service and it is extremely popular in India and Brazil. Apart from chatting, WhatsApp also offers a built-in payments service that is available in both of these countries. WhatsApp Payments service allows users to directly send money to each other. Now, it is being reported that the latest WhatsApp beta version for Android reportedly contains hints that the service might ask users to verify their identity to use payments on the app in the future, according to a new report.

According to a report by XDA, WhatsApp for Android version 2.21.22.6 (the latest beta version) has added a few strings that suggest the app might ask users to submit identity verification documents to make payments on the service. However, at this stage, it isn’t clear whether these will be applicable to a specific region as there is no official word from WhatsApp regarding this - it is still under development and could even be removed in a future build.

WhatsApp does not ask users for document verification in India or in Brazil at the time of publishing this story - it verifiies Indian users’ phone numbers for the UPI based service. According to the report, WhatsApp uses a different approach in Brazil, asking users to validate their debit or credit cards using Facebook Pay.

Meanwhile, on the latest beta, XDA spotted four strings titled “Your identity couldn't be verified. Try uploading the documents again” and another one “Verify your identity to continue using payments on Whatsapp”. There were also two other strings, both titled “WhatsApp Support” that were spotted on the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android, according to the report.

At this point, it is too early to speculate on the reason behind the new strings added to the app, but the report suggests that WhatsApp could be looking to bring the payments service to another region that requires compliance with stricter rules, as Indian and Brazilian users are currently not required to verify their identity, or the verification might be limited for WhatsApp Pay for business purposes. WhatsApp is yet to make any official announcement about this change, and it could be a while before the company does, as it appears to be in development at this time.

“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,” a WhatsApp India spokesperson told HT Tech on Wednesday.  

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