Digital rights advocacy group IFF notices 70% drop in donors as banks unable to keep up with RBI’s recurring payments regulation

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Digital rights advocacy group IFF notices 70% drop in donors as banks unable to keep up with RBI’s recurring payments regulation
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  • IFF claimed that its membership has dropped from over 423 members to 177, shaving off ₹2.5-3 lakh in donations this month alone.
  • Internet Freedom Foundation took to Twitter earlier today to raise ₹30 lakh to sustain its initiatives.
  • The guidelines were expected to come into effect from April 1 onwards, but were postponed to October 1 due to lack of preparedness on the banks' front.
Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) witnessed a 70% drop in donors since the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) latest regulations on recurring payments came into place on October 1. The major reason behind this is the lack of technical capabilities on the banks’ end.

Apar Gupta, executive director of IFF, told Business Insider, “A lot of our sign-ups were through credit and debit card instruments. After the RBI mandate came into effect on October 1, because the banks, which have issued these cards have not implemented the practices and the protection necessary for the card users, the recurring subscription stopped.”

Besides this, these users are unable to create fresh subscriptions. The digital advocacy group had also sent out an email earlier this month, reminding their customers to continue with their memberships.

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The latest regulations have added an additional layer of authentications to recurring payments. A user will have to manually mandate such transactions every month, dropping the idea of recurring payments altogether.

Banks had more than six months to prepare

It is important to note that the guidelines were expected to come into effect from April 1 onwards, but were postponed to October 1 due to lack of preparedness on the banks' front.

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Gupta noted, “We thought that the e-mandate system would be much better because there are three modes through which recurring donations can be made — credit and debit card instrument, e-mandate and UPI [unified payments interface] auto debit mandate. With all three there is a level of technical instability at present at the end of most banks and it varies from bank to bank.”

Earlier, the Indian software-as-service (SaaS) industry had also expected a drop in their subscription due to these policies, but due to completely different reasons.

Internet Freedom Foundation seeks donation to keep up

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Internet Freedom Foundation took to Twitter earlier today (October 20) to raise ₹30 lakh to sustain its initiatives. The non-profit has raised ₹31,500 as of 4:30 p.m., on Wednesday.


The non-profit organisation has claimed that its membership has dropped from around 423 members to 177, shaving off ₹2.5-3 lakh in donations this month alone. It expects the number to drop further if fresh sign-ups are not authorised.

The digital advocacy group strategically engages with courts, regulators and other legal entities in India to defend citizen’s fundamental rights. Its body of work includes providing legal assistance to journalists’ union, media organisations like LiveLaw and platforms like Fridays for the Future India.
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Internet Freedom Foundation was also among the groups to call out the Indian government for banning Chinese apps last year and raise voice against WhatsApp’s privacy policy that sought permission to share users’ meta data with Facebook.

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