WhatsApp ‘not fully’ compliant for payments business

WhatsApp’s recent move to store payments data in India might not be enough for it to roll out full-scale operations on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), people aware of the matter in the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said. According to these officials, WhatsApp is only ‘mirroring’ the payments data in India — in other words, a copy or copies of the same data is/are stored overseas too. The RBI had mandated in April that data of financial institutions should be stored only in India. Currently, the payments business of WhatsApp is restricted to 1 million people and it needs final approvals from the NPCI and the RBI before it can be opened up to everyone who uses the messaging application. Last week, the company announced that it has built a system that stores payments-related data locally in India. It did not clarify whether the payments data is being kept ‘only’ in India or elsewhere too. As things stand now, they have done only data-mirroring, which is not enough, according to the RBI circular, said a senior official in the NPCI. The umbrella payments body held a meeting on Monday to finalise the next course of action on players like Google Pay, which too stores data outside India. Google CEO Sundar Pichai had written to India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asking for free flow of data, arguing that it would benefit Indian startups. A final decision on the case could not be arrived at on Monday, people aware of the discussions said.

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