WhatsApp yet to ping storage timeline to NPCI

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Since WhatsApp’s entry on Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the company has had to battle multiple issues including clear protest from rivals like Paytm.
(This story originally appeared in on Dec 05, 2018)
BENGALURU: Facebook-owned WhatsApp has still not set any timeline for complying with data localisation norms, as per sources in umbrella payments body -- National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

This comes after a report last week that WhatsApp’s global CEO Chris Daniels had written to RBI seeking full-scale roll-out. The letter was sent early last month. Sources in NPCI said other major players on its UPI network have indicated certain timelines by which they expect to store data only in India but hasn’t heard from WhatsApp. Incidentally, sources close to WhatsApp said it has not received any response to Daniels’ letter.
“It is clear their local set-up of data storage is not in full compliance with the RBI diktat and we have not been given any timeline that could indicate by when they would store payments data only in India,” a person aware of the matter in NPCI said.

The messaging platform recently announced former Ezetap founder Abhijit Bose as its India head recently. WhatsApp, as of now, is mirroring payments data -- keeping a copy of it overseas. The payments service is still restricted to about 1 million users in beta-stage. WhatsApp has also been repeatedly crying foul over ‘partial’ treatment to other UPI players such as Google’s Google Pay. The company had written to authorities after it announced setting up local servers for storing data.

As per NPCI sources, it was storing a copy of the same overseas too. “Today, almost 1 million people are testing WhatsApp payments in India. The feedback has been very positive, and people enjoy the convenience of sending money as simply and securely as sending messages. We’re working closely with the Indian government, NPCI, and multiple banks including our payment service providers to expand the feature to more people and support India’s digital economy,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson. NPCI did not respond to TOI’s queries.

While the deadline to store data only in India has expired, several payment firms have told NPCI and RBI that that it will comply with norms over six to nine months. There have been no penalties on these companies so far.

Since WhatsApp’s entry on Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the company has had to battle multiple issues including clear protest from rivals like Paytm. TOI previously reported that its platform issues too had become a hurdle for the company. However, the company seems to be moving towards a solution with the government.
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Bose, who will join the company early next year, will be looking after the payments business as well as the platform issues such was fake news, rumour mongering, etc. The popular messaging platform recently saw another top executives -- chief business officer, Neeraj Arora--resigning from the company. Both founders left the company after differences with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook group companies have been witnessing top-level exits as Zuckerberg seems to have plans that these executives don’t agree. Prior to Arora, Instagram founders --Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have also moved on from the company.
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