WhatsApp has been testing a peer-to-peer payment service in India for more than a year, its largest user market, but official launch has been delayed by local data storage standards. After a hacking incident involving Israeli spyware Pegasus, Supreme Court gave the central bank six weeks to report on WhatsApp’s compliance with data localization standards as Facebook-owned messenger gears to launch a payment service in the country, a person involved in the case said. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) told the Supreme Court that the WhatsApp messaging platformdoes not comply with data localization requirements.
The apex bank ordered the Indian National Payments Corporation (NPCI) not to permit the Facebook-owned company to introduce the full-scale payment service in India.
WhatsApp faced an additional challenge as a think-tank based in Delhi, the Center for Accountability And Systemic Change, claimed in a petition to the Supreme Court last year that the company did not comply with the rules on data localization payments.
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NPCI operates the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which last month clocked more than one billion transactions. PhonePe and Google Pay are the leading UPI players followed by Paytm and Amazon Pay.
WhatsApp Payments, based on UPI, has been in beta for a year or so. In 2017, through an invite-only model, the company started testing the payment service in India. The payment service in India, however, is yet to be officially launched.
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The development comes as RBI had recently been asked by the Supreme Court to update it in August on the data location status of WhatsApp.
The RBI has reviewed the above reports (by NPCI) and NPCI’s responses and is of the view that WhatsApp stores the following payment information elements outside India beyond the timelines stated in the circular and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on storage of payment system data provided by RBI on June 26, 2019, “RBI said, as quoted by Times of India.
Also, RBI has advised NPCI not to allow WhatsApp to go live on the UPI payment system for full-scale operations until it is fully compliant, it added. WhatsApp payments system stores various payment information outside India, including transaction ID, collection demand expiry, and reference numbers for retrieval among other data elements says RBI. WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users worldwide, including 400 million users in India alone