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WhatsApp Pay looks up to court as time runs out for its rollout

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The much delayed roll out of WhatsApp Pay is still keeping the company on tenterhooks as the issue is still stuck in the Indian Supreme Court.

A week ago, it did get a major lease of life with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) telling the court that whatsApp Pay is now fully compliant with its data-localisation norms.

But the matter has not moved an inch after that as the Supreme Court is still sitting on it, and WhatsApp officials are waiting for a resolution with sweaty palms.

WhatsApp will need an all-clear from the Supreme Court before it can roll out its payment feature, people familiar with the matter have been quoted as saying in Economic Times.

“The letter of approval to WhatsApp has still not been issued. It may take some more time,” the report quoting an unnamed official said.

The RBI has told the Supreme Court of India that the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has confirmed that WhatsApp is now fully compliant with the data-localisation norms --- the point on which the rollout of the service has been held back.

RBI's response was part of the proceedings in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against WhatsApp Pay by the think-tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC).

CASC had wanted the apex court to stop WhatsApp’s trial with 1 million users, and direct the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to put on record the permission granted for the trial and disclose all communication between WhatsApp, the NPCI and itself.

WhatsApp Pay has been running a pilot project with 1 million users for nearly two years. It is yet to receive permission for a full rollout with all its 400 million Indian users because it has not yet completed storing all data within the country’s borders.

WhatsApp Pay beta-tested in India in 2018, and it amassed 1 million users. The beta was launched in February 2018 and offered P2P capabilities when users linked their accounts to a bank account. And it did go on to meet the RBI's data localization regulations prior to the October 15, 2018 deadline by providing domestic data storage. 

There is still some conflict between the government and WhatsApp. The messaging platform is not ready to comply with the requests to reveal the source of messages. WhatsApp is holding its ground that it is not ready to break the sanctity of end-t-end encrytion that it offers its users.

WhatsApp Pay service, if and when it is offered in India, is expected to create a major splash in terms of digital transactions. WhastApp Pay aims to take on already established digital payment gateways in the country, mainly Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm.

WhatsApp is well primed for this contest, it would appear. Its parent Facebook bought a 9.9% stake in Reliance Jio for ₹43,574 crore. The partnership between Facebook and Jio is unprecedented in many ways. Jio Platforms has an estimated user base of over 380 million across the country. Jio is betting big on WhatsApp Pay to carry on its ambitious e-commerce forays.

Source: Economic Times


06 Aug 2020



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