Apps

WhatsApp payment service launch in India hits red tape roadblock

by Arushi Chaudhary

WhatsApp has been seeking to leverage its colossal user base in India by rolling out a payment service for over a year now. However, things have remained dormant on the front for quite some time now – barring the initial buzz surrounding the anticipated launch – and the service still awaits an official launch in the Indian market. It has now emerged that delay is being caused by ‘political entanglements’ and regulatory issues.

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A report by The Economic Times, that evaluates the reasons for this delay and claims that WhatsApp feels it is being meted out an unfair treatment in the country, has blamed this delay on reluctance on part of the authorities to give the Facebook-owned messaging platform a free run with its payment service. It is no secret that the government has been irked by the spread of fake news and volatile rumours on the platform. Now, insiders from the banking sector and the payment industry have pointed out that fake news and data privacy controversy involving Facebook has damaged the brand’s reputation, linking these developments to government’s reluctance to move forward with sanctions for the payment service.

The situation remains bleak even after WhatsApp’s implementation of the recommended changes suggested by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). To complicate matters further, WhatsApp is struggling with ‘data localisation’ – storing Indian data within the country – rule put forth by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

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While WhatsApp is prepared for data mirroring that means storing Indian data on domestic as well as foreign servers, a complete localisation of data would call for a complete overhaul of its strategy. It will also require redesigning its servers for India alone, which will, in turn, further slow down the process of implementing innovation in the Indian market.

WhatsApp views this string of regulatory limitations as a source of ‘unfair’ advantage to its competitors such as Google’s Tez, Paytm and other payment services. It is now exploring its options for a full-scale launch in other countries.

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