SC gives WhatsApp, RBI 6 weeks to file compliance reports for payment services

SC gives WhatsApp, RBI 6 weeks to file compliance reports for payment services
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
5 Aug, 2019

The Supreme Court has given six weeks to WhatsApp and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to submit responses over the data localisation rules for payment services.

WhatsApp said in its submission on August 3 that it had appointed a grievance officer for its India operations, in compliance with the law, in response to queries by the apex court.  

The company had appointed Komal Lahiri as the grievance officer in September 2018.  

Lahiri is based in the US though the apex court has sought clarification on the need for appointment of a grievance officer in the country. 

WhatsApp's current arrangement is on par with that of Google, which has a grievance officer based in the US and operates its payment service, Tez in India.

Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), an NGO, had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on January 14 this year that WhatsApp had launched its payment service WhatsApp Pay without complying with norms of data localisation notified by RBI in April 2018. 

WhatsApp had said earlier it had hired a third party auditor for certifying compliance with payments data localisation norms in India.

During his recent India visit, WhatsApp’s global head Will Cathcart had said  WhatsApp Pay was fully compliant with data norms, and that the company will be launching the service by the end of 2019.

Cathcart also met representatives from RBI as well as Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister of electronics and information technology (MeitY) during his visit. 

“They (WhatsApp) are going into digital payment also in accordance with the RBI architecture and National Payments Council of India (NPCI) requirements. I have heard them and have instructed my departments to encourage them if they comply. If they meet the regulatory requirements, they must be encouraged,” Prasad said after meeting Cathcart on July 25.

WhatsApp Pay, available to a million users in India, has been in pilot mode even after a year since launch due to regulatory hurdles and non-compliance issues. The messaging app has over 400 million monthly active users in India.