Messaging platform WhatsApp on Tuesday said it has developed a system to store payments-related data in India as part of complying with the RBI’s policy on storing such data locally. The move assumes significance amid the industry being divided over the RBI asking all payment system providers to ensure that data relating to systems operated by them is stored only in India.
WhatsApp, which has 200 million users in the country, is the first major global player that has officially announced its compliance with the RBI directions before the deadline of October 15.
“In response to India’s payments data circular, we’ve built a system that stores payments-related data locally in India,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.
Currently, WhatsApp has around one million people in India are “testing” its payment services, which the company launched on a pilot basis earlier this year, the spokesperson said. In April, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came out with a circular regarding data localisation policy for payment system providers.
Generally, data localisation refers to storing data within India.
According to the spokesperson, WhatsApp hopes to expand the payments feature across India soon so that it can “contribute to the country’s financial inclusion goals”. Out of WhatsApp user base of 1.3 billion people, more than 200 million people are in India — the single largest market for the popular messaging platform.
The central bank’s data localisation policy elicited mixed response from the payment services industry. While some of the prominent domestic payment companies like Paytm and PhonePe have come in support of the policy, global players like Google sought free flow of data. Internet major Google offers Google Pay in India.