This is different from its recently updated policy for its messaging service, which has stoked privacy fears among users in India — its largest market with 400 million monthly active users. Prior to this update, users could choose not to share any information with WhatsApp parent Facebook. Now, one must agree to it to use the messaging service.
Sources said regulators had ensured this was done before WhatsApp Pay was given the nod to launch its payments service in India in November last year. “This was one of the primary concerns before they (WhatsApp) got the approval,” a person aware of the matter said. After being stuck in beta-mode for a twoand-a-half-year period, WhatsApp was given the nod to gradually launch payments here, starting with 20 million users.
The changes in its messaging policy were largely triggered by increased usage of WhatsApp by small and large businesses to reach its users. WhatsApp application programming interface (API) is the tool through which businesses launch their WhatsApp services and interact with users. WhatsApp has been bringing additional features like ‘shopping button’ and ‘cart’ to these business accounts when a user chats with them. The idea is to eventually bring full-stack commerce on WhatsApp. The messaging platform is working to enable sale of micro-insurance and pension products here in partnership with financial services companies, it said at a recent company event.
Following the furore, WhatsApp has, however, reiterated that messages between two people will continue to be encrypted and a third person would not be able to see it. In case of messaging with a business or store on WhatsApp, the content may be visible to multiple people. Many businesses on WhatsApp also work with Facebook separately.
“When you message with a business on WhatsApp, keep in mind that the content you share may be visible to several people in that business. In addition, some businesses might be working with third-party service providers (which may include Facebook) to help manage their communications with their customers,” WhatsApp has said in a blog post.