WhatsApp’s payment feature called WhatsApp Pay has been in a beta mode since February last year and has been restricted to only 1 million users in the country, pending regulatory approvals.
WhatsApp is working to comply with central bank regulations on storage of payment data, according to two people familiar with the development, indicating a turnaround in the stance adopted by the Facebook-owned messaging application, which has resisted demands to store payment data of Indian users exclusively within the country, so far. WhatsApp’s payment feature called WhatsApp Pay has been in a beta mode since February last year and has been restricted to only 1 million users in the country, pending regulatory approvals.
“We plan to comply with RBI guidelines. Only some engineering work is left,” a senior Facebook executive told ET. This will mean that servers holding financial data of Indian users will now be located inside the country alone.
Until now, the American company has been seeking approval to merely mirror or copy payments data within India, while also storing the same data in its overseas servers.
Indian regulators have had no truck with this plan insisting that in order to be fully compliant, WhatsApp must locate all servers used to store financial data pertaining to Indian users within the country, as mandated by the Reserve Bank of India in April 2018.
Last month, in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, the banking regulator stated that WhatsApp had not complied with the data localisation norms laid down by it.
“WhatsApp has realised that there is no way to get away with it,” said a senior official with the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
“We still don’t have it in writing though,” the official said.
WhatsApp Pay is designed to run on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) created by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). This allows users to conduct peer-to-peer and business transactions for even micro payments through their bank accounts.