It has been more than a year since Whatsapp has been trying to have a full-fledged launch of its UPI based payments platform in India. The social media messaging app has been plagued by a bunch of controversies ranging from fake news to its failure to comply with RBI norms.
Will Cathcart, global head of the US-based company, is visiting India in a bid to remove the regulatory roadblocks his company has been facing in the country. He’s slated to meet RBI and ministry officials, regarding the issues of data localization, and privacy.
In an interview with TOI, Cathcart divulged that the number of Whatsapp users has crossed 400 million making it the most popular messaging app among Indian internet users.
Speaking about the company’s compliance problems he said,
“On data localization, we have done tremendous work to comply with requirements and make sure we do this in a way that builds on top of the system India has set up with UPI and the bank partners that we are working with.”
On similar lines, another company official denied that the non-WhatsApp subsidiaries use WhatsApp UPI transaction data for any commercial purposes.
At the same time, the government has directed the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which is the governing body for retail payments in India, to inquire about the issue and make sure that payments platforms like PhonePe, Google Pay or WhatsApp are not indulging in the shady practice of sharing user information with third parties.
Talking to ET, govt officials have expressed their grave concerns regarding chances of WhatsApp sharing sensitive transaction information with Facebook and Instagram or sell that information to third parties without the users knowing about it.
This development comes when the Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 is slated to be introduced in Parliament for discussion. If implemented, this bill will regulate the processing of personal data of individuals by government and private entities incorporated in India and abroad.
This is not the first time, the Facebook-owned company has faced the flak from the government officials or the regulatory body.
In August last year, Centre for Accountability and Systematic Change (CASC), an NGO had filed a plea regarding WhatsApp’s compliance standards, the issue of lack of a grievance officer and the nonpayment of local taxes by US-based company.
Around the same time, the government of India issued a set of data localization norms to ensure that the financial data of the company does not go outside India and is stored in localized Data centers within Indian territory.
Moreover, NPCI had reprimanded Whatsapp for non-compliance with norms and for only mirroring data stored in India disregarding RBI instructions that all data related to payments must be stored in India and data mirroring or copying wouldn’t help foreign entities to come out of the mandatory norms.