WhatsApp Pay yet to comply with data localisation norms: RBI

WhatsApp Pay yet to comply with data localisation norms: RBI
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29 Mar, 2019

The Reserve Bank of India has said that WhatsApp has not complied yet with the data localisation guidelines issued in April 2018 that are applicable to all payment gateways, pre-paid instruments and payment processors, according to a media report.

The Times of India reported that the central bank's comment came in response to a petition filed by a non-governmental organisaton in the Supreme Court. The RBI was made a party to the petition in January. 

The RBI said cited the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) as saying that WhatsApp was non-compliant with the central bank's directions on data localisation, the report said. 

The banking regulator's comments cover user and transaction fee collected by WhatsApp’s UPI-based payment service, WhatsApp Pay, which was launched in February 2018 and has continued to operate in beta mode, restricted to 1 million users. UPI is short for the Unified Payments Interface, an inter-bank payments system developed by the NPCI.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc., has about 250 million monthly active users in India.

The petition filed by the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change also challenged the absence of a country-based grievance officer. WhatsApp had appointed Komal Lahiri as India grievance officer in September though she is based out of the company’s Menlo Park headquarters in California.

The company had also appointed Ezetap co-founder Abhijit Bose as head of India operations in November. Bose is said to have met the CEO of NPCI, Dilip Asbe, to expedite the rollout of the WhatsApp Pay service to all its users. The company hit a roadblock with a full-scale rollout due to the data localisation norms. The norms have also deterred iPhone maker Apple to delay the launch of its payments platform in India.

Other gateways including Google Pay and Master Card are in the process of complying with data localisation norms.