WhatsApp Pay is easy to use, but take a few extra security measures

Firstly, add a PIN to your WhatsApp. Also, activate two-step authentication, and remember that you don’t need to click on any message or QR code to receive payment | Photo: Shutterstock
WhatsApp can now be used to make and receive payment, through the Payments feature designed on the National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI’s) Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It is now live with State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank.

According to a WhatsApp spokesperson, “With WhatsApp Payments, people can send and receive money as easily and securely as they exchange messages. WhatsApp Payments offers more choice to consumers in the country’s growing payments ecosystem.”  Over 20 million people use the app.

Sanjeev Moghe, executive vice-president and head of cards and payments at Axis Bank, says, “Customers will find using WhatsApp Payments easy, as a large portion of the population already uses this app.”

How to begin: You will be able to transfer money directly between bank accounts. Begin by adding one of your active bank accounts. The primary phone number attached to your bank account needs to match the one attached to your WhatsApp account. To send money, you need to enter the last six digits of your debit card and the expiration date. You can use the facility on both Android and iPhones.

How to send and receive money: First, select the contact you want to send money to. Then click on the clip icon and choose the ‘Payment’ option. Next, mention the amount you want to send. To proceed enter your UPI PIN. A confirmation message will show up in the conversation window once the transaction is complete. WhatsApp doesn’t charge a fee for the transaction.

Stay alert: According to Moghe, transactions done using UPI and WhatsApp Payments will create no incremental risks for users. “All the security measures taken, both by banks and WhatsApp, comply with NPCI requirements.”

While there is no doubt that all the parties involved will take the necessary security measures, users need to be alert, especially those who are not tech-savvy, like senior citizens.

According to cyber security experts, WhatsApp is primarily a communication technology whereas some other UPI-based payment apps are not. Says Mayur Joshi, chief executive officer, Indiaforensic.com: “Social engineering threats will differentiate between WhatsApp and other players. The encryption and security of WhatsApp will be difficult to compromise. All social engineering will happen primarily with the UPI PIN.” Social engineering threats refer to messages from fraudulent individuals that tempt people to give their UPI PIN.

Take a few additional security measures. Ritesh Bhatia, cybercrime investigator and data privacy consultant, says, “Firstly, add a PIN to your WhatsApp. Also, activate two-step authentication, and remember that you don’t need to click on any message or QR code to receive payment.”

When you use the internet to make payments, irrespective of the device or app used, ensure that you update your software regularly, install anti-virus protection, and buy adequate cyber insurance cover.

While there is no doubt that many people will find WhatsApp Payments easy to use, owing to their familiarity with it, users should be careful about messages from strangers and from unknown numbers, which could well be traps.

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