WhatsApp’s troubles over launch of its payments service WhatsApp Pay are still far from getting solved as data localisation continues to play spoilsport. In a case being heard by the Supreme Court, the Reserve Bank Of India reportedly said that the company is yet to comply with the data localisation ruling.
The bank regulator also said that it is exploring regulatory actions in order to expedite compliance of data localisation norms.
Citing sources, a TOI report said that WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose had met with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) MD and CEO Dilip Asbe to discuss the regulatory concerns and expedite the launch of the payment service.
In January 2019, Supreme Court had made RBI as a party to a petition pertaining to the case to check Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s adherence to data localisation norms before it setup its payments business in the country.
Earlier the company had said that it had also built a system to store user’s payment data locally within the country in compliance with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) guidelines.
However, in December 2018, the NPCI had said that it was not given a timeline for complying with the Reserve Bank of India’s data localisation norms. The NPCI had said that this move is not enough as it didn’t mention clearly if the data will be stored exclusively in India or will there be copies of it kept overseas as well.
Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), had filed the petition. It had alleged WhatsApp has not complied with RBI’s April 6, 2018, data localisation circular, that mandated all payments operators and banks to store data of their Indian users’ within the country by October 15, 2018.
Speaking with Inc42, CASC Advocate Virag Gupta also said that the company’s appointment of Komal Lahri as its grievance officer for India is also not in compliance as she is based out of US.
WhatsApp Pay’s Troubles Continue
WhatsApp Pay was expected to launch in India in May 2018 however the launch was delayed as the central government directed that the company can’t launch WhatsApp Pay till it sets up an office and recruits a team in India.
The beta version was also launched in May last year, however, the test was discontinued due to issues related to localisation.
However, acceding to the government demands, Facebook-owned messaging company appointed Komal Lahiri as its grievance officer.
WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels had also held talks with Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao (KTR) in Hyderabad to set up WhatsApp’s office in the city.
In November 2018, the company also appointed B2B payments platform Ezetap’s chief executive, Abhijit Bose, as head of its Indian operations.
After taking steps to comply with the government needs, WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels had put in a formal request seeking RBI approval for expanding WhatsApp Pay in India.