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VSS continues tirade against Facebook and WhatsApp UPI, fears country’s financial data leak


WhatsApp UPI, which has announced its arrival in India has been facing criticism by its would-be rival Paytm’s founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma. This time, taking Facebook’s recent data leak as an example, Sharma said that tech companies like WhatsApp will put India’s financial data at risk which can be misused in multiple ways.

He also added that WhatsApp will not share any data with the Indian government if a situation arises, as had happened recently with the markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

SEBI had sought information on the origin of WhatsApp messages that allegedly contained unpublished price-sensitive information of listed companies. Later, the market watchdog threatened to move to court against the instant messaging platform as it denies to share user-specific data.

Sharma’s statement comes on the heels of Facebook’s recent data breach controversy, which stated that the owner of WhatsApp shared data of up to 50 million users with a political data analytics company Cambridge Analytica.

Notably, the data was allegedly used to tilt the results of US elections in favour of Donald Trump.

Sharma’s outrage over Mark Zuckerberg-led social media giant is not for the first time. He recently alleged that Facebook is the “most evil company” in the world. In the past, he had also raised his voice against the US-based firm over Free Basics, which according to Sharma was violating the net neutrality norms.

Currently, WhatsApp is testing peer to peer (P2P) payments in India on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). “Banks which are partnering with WhatsApp on UPI only have certain data sets with them while WhatsApp has the entire data of Indians transacting which is going out of the country”, said Sharma.

On social media, Paytm has been targeted for being funded by foreign players like Alibaba and SoftBank. In his statement, Sharma also clarified that his company keeps all its data in India and is open to sharing it if required.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp estranged co-founder Brian Acton also added fuel to the fire with his recent tweet. The reason behind his tweet seems to be related to Facebook’s data leak case.

Earlier, Sharma had alleged that WhatsApp UPI has been given leeway by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to roll out in India. However, NPCI had clarified that WhatsApp UPI is in its beta phase with a limited user base of one million users and have a low per transaction limit.

According to NPCI, for full-fledged offering, WhatsApp will too have to follow the rules which are applicable to other UPI enabled payments platforms.

Among the UPI enabled payment platforms, PhonePe, Paytm and government-run BHIM have been leading the market, while newly entrant Google’s Tez and PayPal are also gradually capturing the userbase. Besides, there are 67 banks live on UPI platform.

All the aforementioned digital payments platforms have been eyeing a major chunk of UPI’s pie. With the announcement of the chat-based giant integrating UPI, the digital payments space is going to be more competitive.

The development was reported by TOI.

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