NPCI clears decks for WhatsApp Pay
An affidavit filed by RBI in the Supreme Court last week said NPCI had told the central bank in June that it was satisfied with WhatsApp’s compliance with the regulator’s data storage rules and was good to go live on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform.Updated: Aug 03, 2020, 07:20 IST
Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp unit is set to launch its payment services in India, with the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) informing the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that the messaging platform has met data localisation requirements.
An affidavit filed by RBI in the Supreme Court last week said NPCI had told the central bank in June that it was satisfied with WhatsApp’s compliance with the regulator’s data storage rules and was good to go live on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform. WhatsApp is now offering the payments on a trial basis to some users.
“We would like to confirm that WhatsApp has satisfied the data localisation requirements based on Cert-In auditor’s reports and we hereby are giving ICICI Bank (payment service provider bank for WhatsApp) the approval to go live,” the affidavit submitted by RBI to the court said. Mint has reviewed a copy of the affidavit.
Payments data, information on payments or settlement transactions, customer data, among other information, has to be stored in India, according to RBI rules.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said the company is ready to provide payment services to users in India soon.
“We understand NPCI is satisfied with WhatsApp’s compliance with RBI’s payments guidelines on data localisation. Our team has worked hard to meet these standards over the last year,” the spokesperson said.
WhatsApp is waiting for a formal communication from NPCI to launch a UPI-based payment system in India. “Now that NPCI has given clearance on data localisation requirements nothing prevents WhatsApp from going live. It is only a matter of time now,” an industry official said, requesting anonymity.
RBI’s submission to the apex court came in a public interest litigation filed by New Delhi-based think tank, the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change, challenging WhatsApp’s pilot project for allegedly not adhering to data localization norms. Data localisation had become a thorny issue between the government and foreign firms in India after the banking regulator in 2018 said financial data will have to be stored in India.
Emails sent to RBI, NPCI and ICICI Bank remained unanswered till the time of going to press.