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WhatsApp, Google Asked to Store Payments Data Exclusively in India

The Indian government is further strengthening its stance on data privacy and wants companies to store their user’s data exclusively in India. Moving another step forward in that direction, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has sent a letter to WhatsApp and Google, asking them to clarify their position on the data localisation norms when it comes to storing of payments data that are collected by their UPI-based payments platforms.

A senior government official who told Economic Times that NPCI, in alignment with RBI, wants all the payments data to be stored exclusively in India and it has made it very clear in its latest missive to WhatsApp and Google.

“Companies may say they store payments data in India, but we know they are keeping a mirror copy abroad. India, however, is looking at keeping everything locally”, the government official was quoted as saying by ET. Back in October, WhatsApp revealed that the company had built a system to store all the payments data in India to comply with the government’s regulations and make way for WhatsApp Payments’ to be rolled out to a wide range of its users.

A month later, Google also decided to follow the government’s data storage policy and has asked for some time so it can build the necessary infrastructure, but just like WhatsApp, Google too did not reveal whether it will store the payments data exclusively in India.

WhatsApp Payments

The ‘exclusivity‘ condition for storing payments data locally is of prime importance here because WhatsApp has recently confirmed that the company shares its users’ payments data such as UPI PIN, transaction amount and virtual payments addresses (VPA) with Facebook and third-party service providers. WhatsApp’s admission was questioned by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

“We are working to increase our data residency capacity in India to support our partners that are regulated by RBI”, a Google spokesperson told Economic Times when asked about the NPCI’s letter. a WhatsApp spokesperson averted responding t queries regarding NPCI’s message, but as per a government official, WhatsApp is looking for a ‘level playing field‘ in India after the company revealed that WhatsApp feels its payments service is being singled out by the Indian government, while its rivals are enjoying an unfair advantage.

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