WhatsApp Payments Plan in Limbo Due to Regulatory Entanglements

WhatsApp Payments Plan in Limbo Due to Regulatory Entanglements

Bengaluru: It seems that the plan of launching payments in India by WhatsApp is in limbo due to regulatory and political entanglements. As per the industry experts, the major reason behind this is the privacy issue with the parent company Facebook along with fake news spreading through the instant messaging platform. Therefore chances for WhatsApp going live with the financial services seams bleak.

According to various bankers and insiders of the payments industry, chances of WhatsApp going live anytime soon seems bleak inspite of them having implemented all the design rectifications as requested by the National Payments Corporation of India.

Further data localisation norms of the RBI have also caused them to halt their aggressive plans on starting payment services here. Besides WhatsApp, Amazon and Apple too have put brakes on their plans to launch payments in India through UPI.

“Unless the issue around the storage of payments data within India is sorted out none of the global giants who have data centres globally will be able to go live,” said the person quoted above. “Though WhatsApp has implemented all the design requirements for UPI as specified by NPCI, till the data localisation issue is addressed they will not be able to go live.”

Simultaneously a Right to Information plea filed with the Reserve Bank of India has revealed that the RBI did not give any explicit consent to NPCI to allow WhatsApp to launch pilot payments. “RBI has not approved consent given by NPCI to allow WhatsApp to launch and provide payment services to its users in India,” said RBI in a written response to an RTI filing.

Responding to the queries of the media, NPCI which manages the UPI railroads said: “Timeline to go full-scale live depends on the app provider’s compliance to data localisation. We keep RBI informed for all large providers going fullscale live on a multibank model once all the compliance requirements are fulfilled.”

Answering the queries of the media, ICICI Bank spokesperson said: “ICICI Bank is one of the PSPs for UPI payment with WhatsApp. In line with the NPCI guidelines for third parties to go live and process payments on the UPI platform, ICICI Bank has launched a pilot beta version with limited features for testing with required approval from NPCI.”

Bankers in the know of the matter said banks were supposed to seek RBI consent after April 16 for the final launch of the payments product. Since WhatsApp only had a limited pilot launch, only NPCI clearance was sought. Later WhatsApp got entangled in multiple controversies causing the final launch date to get postponed.