The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is reportedly investigating allegations of monopolistic trade practices against WhatsApp for trying to bundle its proposed payments service with its popular instant messaging app.
According to Reuters, at least two sources have confirmed that the person who filed the complaint with CCI was a lawyer, but neither divulged the identity of the complainant.
While both WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook, has been named in the complaint, the former seems to be the object of CCI’s investigation. According to one of the three unnamed sources quoted by the report, “The case is in initial stages .. senior members of CCI are reviewing it but a final decision hasn’t been reached”.
The latest development is a new hurdle for the Facebook-owned company at a time it is desperately trying to roll out its payments platform after being in a state of limbo for a couple of years. The National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) earlier this year approved the launch of WhatsApp Pay in the country in a phased manner, but only after the company complies with all data-related regulations in the country.
While the company originally conducted a pilot test for the service back in 2018, it was never launched widely after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) withdrew its clearance following persistent skepticism from politicians. In a deposition to the Supreme Court last year, the RBI said that the permission was withdrawn because the Facebook-owned platform was still non-compliant with India’s data localization laws.
All that seems to be changing with the company recently telling the NPCI that its payments business will comply with all data localization regulations in the country by the end of this month. According to a report a few weeks earlier, if everything goes according to plan, WhatsApp Pay will finally be able to start the nationwide rollout of its UPI payments platform before the end of this year.