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RBI Seeks Centre, NPCI Opinion On Approval For WhatsApp Pay

RBI Seeks Centre, NPCI Opinion On Approval For WhatsApp Pay

WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels had written to RBI for launching payment service pan India

Late last month, WhatsApp appointed Abhijit Bose, former CEO of Ezetap, as head of WhatsApp India

WhatsApp has still not given a timeline for complying with the RBI's data localisation norms

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sought the opinion of the Centre and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on concerns raised by WhatsApp over the delay in approving its proposed payment business, according to a recent media report, citing a senior official at the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity).

The development comes soon after WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels put in a formal request seeking the RBI’s approval for expanding its payments service — WhatsApp Pay — across the country. In the letter dated November 5, Daniels had reportedly said: “I write to request your formal approval to immediately expand WhatsApp’s BHIM UPI (Unified Payments Interface) compliant payments product to all users in India.”

A senior official at the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) confirmed receipt of the RBI letter — sent last week — and said, “Whatever concerns we had with WhatsApp Payments, we have outlined them in our previous communication to NPCI and RBI.”

What complicates the matter further is the fact that WhatsApp has reportedly not given a timeline for complying with the RBI’s data localisation norms, according to the NPCI.

Inc42 contacted WhatsApp, the NPCI, and the RBI, but none of them were available for comment.

WhatsApp Pay: Looking To Tap 200 Mn User base

It’s been a while since US-based messaging service WhatsApp unveiled its ambitions of introducing its payments service in India, which it expected to launch in May this year. But instead of the launch, what followed was a cycle of back and forth between the messaging service, potential competitors like Paytm, and the Indian government. It seems like the logjam is set to continue.

WhatsApp has over 200 Mn users in India.

The company announced in October that it has built a system to comply with the data localisation directive but the NPCI was not impressed by the move as the messaging app did not mention clearly whether the data would be stored exclusively in India or would a copy of the data be kept overseas as well.

Earlier, in August, the Indian government said that it can’t launch WhatsApp Pay till it sets up an office and recruits a team in India.

Last month, WhatsApp appointed Abhijit Bose, cofounder and CEO of payment device maker Ezetap, as the head of WhatsApp India. Bose will commence his role in early 2019. The appointment came about two months after the company appointed Komal Lahiri as its first Grievance Officer for India, again at the insistence of the government.

Whatsapp is hoping to resolve the regulatory issues so it can hit the ground running and tap into with its huge user base in India to launch its payments app. India’s digital payments segment is expected to reach $700 Bn by 2022.

The development was first reported by ET.