WhatsApp gives in to India’s data localisation policy


  • The messaging platform, WhatsApp, has just announced that it will be building a system that will store the payments data of Indian users locally.
  • This announcement comes at a time when most foreign companies are asking for an extension and relaxation of the regulations.
  • While the deadline for payments data is 15 October, the Personal Data Protection Bill draft expands the scope to include all data from Indian users once implemented.
After continuous pressure from the Indian government as well as India’s nodal banking agency, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Whatsapp has announced that it’s building a system that will store all payments related data locally.

While the messaging giant rolled out its payments feature earlier this year, a full-fledged out option hasn’t been possible because of pending approvals from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and the RBI. Currently, there are around 1 million people testing the feature according to the company’s spokesperson.

The deadline given to all foreign companies with payments apps in India to ensure data localisation is 15 October, as per the RBI. The central bank’s directive states that it’s important to have, “unfettered supervisory access to data stored with these system providers”.

The bank also specified that the data collected must include all the details of any monetary transaction including the information that was processed as part of the payment instruction.

Another one bites the dust

Last month, Google gave in to the demands of the Indian government by agreeing to store Indian users payments-related data within the country.

WhatsApp’s announcement of complying with India’s data localisation requests comes when most foreign companies are bidding for more time to put their systems in place as well relaxations on the stringent regulation put forward by the RBI.

The draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill also propagates that any data relating to Indian users should be stored locally. This has brought on a number of petitions to the government from foreign firms and associations relaying their concerns about the cost of implementing something like this.

According to them, not only will this affect their bottom line, but restricting the free flow of data would take away their ability to bolster India’s digital economy.

WhatsApp Payments is only one obstacle that WhatsApp has to overcome. The lingering issue of misinformation being spammed on the messaging service, determining accountability for the string of lynchings that followed and the appointment of a local grievance officer are still issues it has to deal with.

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