After years of efforts, Whatsapp seems to have finally complied with India’s data localisation norms to start its digital payments service in the country. In a hearing today, the Facebook-owned IM app told India’s Supreme Court that it’s digital payments platform is 100% compliant to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) data localisation policies. It is now waiting for approval from National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to launch its digital payment service on a full scale.
CERT-IN, which is the central government’s cybersecurity firm, certified that WhatsApp’s payments feature satisfies the data localisation requirements under the RBI circular
Whatsapp Payments has been trying to launch in India for over two years now but has been rejected time and again by the RBI and the Supreme court, largely due to its failure to comply with India’s strict new data localisation norms. Another issue has been the issue of safety of user’s data which is stored in the app for 90 days.
Complying with RBI’s data localisation policies is defiantly a step towards introducing Whatsapp payments in India but it still has a long way to go.
In February 2020, NCPI had approved the launch of WhatsApp payments in phases. According to this idea, WhatsApp was allowed to provide its new services to 10 million Indian costumers first and could then make it available for the entire country once it got RBI’s approval. But NPCI later retracted the order and told Whatsapp to fully comply with RBI norms before any sort of roll-out.
Whatsapp has become the most widely used instant messaging app in India, since its launch in 2010. India is its largest market with over 400 Million users.
Whatsapp told the top court that it has spent “significant engineering time and effort over the last seven months to comply with the guidelines.” It has now localised five data elements which were previously pointed out by the RBI.
Earlier this month, Whatsapp officially rolled out its service on full scale in Brazil, making it the first country to see that product. At the same time, speculations had taken speed, suggesting that India could well be the next market for another such launch. Globally, Google and Walmart too have their skin in India’s multi-billion digital payments game, through their GPay and Flipkart PhonePe apps respectively.