SC to WhatsApp, govt: Reply to plea querying eligibility for launch of payment service

SC to WhatsApp, govt: Reply to plea querying eligibility for launch of payment service
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
28 Aug, 2018

The Supreme Court has sought responses from the Indian government and messaging service provider WhatsApp on a plea that seeks a stay on the Facebook-owned firm’s launch of payment services in the country, reports said. 

The plea by a public trust pointed out lack of checks on WhatsApp, which let roughly one million people test its payment services without any approval.

The petition said that unless WhatsApp fully complies with the central bank’s provisions, it cannot launch the service. The petitioner, Centre for Accountability and Systematic Change, said that the messaging service was being treated like an over-the-top player whereas it was in reality a telecom operator. The public trust said all the rules for telecom operators must apply to WhatsApp, such as having a grievance redressal system and data localisation. While WhatsApp parent Facebook and Google have appointed grievance officers in India, the messaging platform itself is yet to do so.

The plea also says WhatsApp Pay cannot go live without the messaging platform having a physical presence in the country. Four days ago, TechCircle had reported that the Facebook-owned firm already has a company in Hyderabad’s HITEC City, by the name of WhatsApp Application Services Private Limited

Moreover, the petition laid out that India is the largest market for the Facebook-owned company, with approximately 200 million of its 1.5 billion global users in the country.

Acting on the plea, the Supreme Court has allowed four weeks for WhatsApp, finance ministry, law and justice ministry, and information technology ministry to respond.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp had partnered private-sector lenders HDFC Bank and Axis Bank to launch its payment services.

WhatsApp intended to launch its payments services in India earlier this year but the plan got delayed after the Reserve Bank of India said in April that payments data need to be stored in the country