RBI Questions Government Over Delay in WhatsApp Payments Roll-out

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The state of WhatsApp’s UPI-based payments service in India has been stuck in limbo, but it seems wider roll-out  of WhatsApp Payments might finally move forward. Earlier this week, WhatsApp chief Chris Daniels knocked at RBI’s doors to push the approval through.

In response, RBI has now written a letter to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and NPCI, asking for their reasons behind delaying the approval for WhatsApp Payments’ wider roll-out.

A senior MeitY official told the Economic Times that the ministry has indeed received a letter from RBI asking for their response over the delay in granting the approval, adding that ‘Whatever concerns we had with WhatsApp Payments, we have outlined them in our previous communication to NPCI and RBI.’

Back in November, NPCI sent letters to Google and WhatsApp, asking them to clarify their position on the country’s data localization norms and also directed them to store all payments data exclusively in India. RBI has advocated that payments data of Indian users should be stored in India, but NPCI did not like the fact that even though WhatsApp is complying with RBI’s data localization order, the company is also storing a copy of the data on off-shore servers.

WhatsApp also acknowledged that it shares some payments data with Facebook and third-party service providers, something which again brought WhatsApp under scrutiny. WhatsApp is yet to take a solid stance regarding the ‘exclusive data localization norm’ advocated by NPCI and MeitY, but RBI is the authority responsible for giving a final approval to WhatsApp Payments’ wider availability.

However, RBI’s letters to NPCI and MeitY don’t necessarily mean that things will turn out in WhatsApp’s favor, because if RBI agrees with MeitY and NPCI’s reasons behind the delay in granting their approval, things will again turn gloomy for the Facebook-owned company.

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