WhatsApp Pay can’t operate remotely, set up office in India before launch: Govt

WhatsApp

After a series of hurdles for launching its payments operation WhatsApp Pay in India, the Facebook-owned instant messenger has to face another litmus test. Now the Indian government emphasises on setting up an office and recruiting a team in the country before the launch of UPI-based payments service.

The move may postpone the launch of much-awaited payments service as the government is planning to approach Reserve Bank of India’s views to make sure that WhatsApp must not violate the rules by setting up financial service in India with an operation from outside.

The ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) has said setting up payments operation is a critical issue and a platform with such a huge userbase can’t operate remotely.

In its defence, WhatsApp has clarified that setting up an India team is a “priority” and it is currently headhunting for two leadership positions, India Head and Head of Policy, reports ET.

In April, the firm had posted a job description looking for India’s head. One month later, reports surfaced in media that it is looking to rope in Visa India’s former head Uttam Nayak to head the payments operation. However, there is no any further update on it.

The development comes against the backdrop of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg statements of waiting for green signal from the Indian government to launch its payments operations in the country.

Last week, WhatsApp team led by chief operating officer Matt Idema had met officials from MeitY. However, the ministry asked them to review its privacy policy before the mass launch.

The central government also highlighted the matter of mob lynching and widespread of fake news via the messenger platform and warned WhatsApp to think of people’s life first instead of launching in-app payments feature.

Meanwhile, a separate report claims that WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and removed the sentence that it was testing a “beta product” while offering payment service to a limited set of users in the country.

After ICICI Bank, now it has added HDFC Bank and Axis Bank to its list of partner banks.

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