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WhatsApp mires into more woes as govt expresses concerns on its payments service

In the wake of the recent hacking of the WhatsApp messaging app, digital payments via social media platforms have now come under the government’s radar.

The Indian government has now begun taking a closer look at the risk of payments made through such platforms, including WhatsApp, whose payment feature is currently being tested and yet to get the nod to start full operation in the country.

The Centre has reached out to the Reserve Bank of India and the National Payments Corporation of India to discuss the safety features of these services.

“Some extra steps need to be undertaken to ensure the security of financial data is not breached,” said an ET report quoting a senior government official.

The move comes after the Facebook-owned instant messaging app revealed last week that its service was used to conduct cyberespionage on Indian journalists, human rights activists and others by Israeli technology firm NSO Group using its spyware Pegasus.

People who were snooped alleged a government hand behind the surveillance. WhatsApp said that it had informed the government about the security breach in May. The government, however, claimed that the messaging app did not reveal complete details.

“We maintain that WhatsApp didn’t disclose entire information to us. We learnt of it through media reports, the official said. The issue is now being monitored at the highest levels,” said the government.

Besides this, the government is already locked in a court battle with WhatsApp over the issue of traceability of messages on its platform. And this latest development now will further delay the launch of WhatsApp Pay in India.

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said last week that the company might soon reveal positive news related to the launch of its messaging app payment service.

WhatsApp, which claims about 400 million users in the country, has been testing its payment service in India since last year. Once launched, it will take on existing players like Paytm, Google Pay and Phone Pe in the country.

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