The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) are expected to file their response on WhatsApp Pay’s data localisation compliance status over the next three weeks following a Supreme Court directive on Wednesday. This comes when WhatsApp Pay is expected to be given the final nod for a full-scale roll-out after its parent firm Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms, where it is using WhatsApp for a commerce initiative.

WhatsApp Pay has been stuck in beta-mode for two years now, with its services restricted to 1 million users in India–the largest market for the messaging app with 400 million users. While WhatsApp was expected to submit a final audit report by end of this month, SC directive paves the way for an official response on the matter from RBI and NPCI, which manages Unified Payments Interface (UPI)–the network on which WhatsApp Pay is offering its payments services. WhatsApp and its parent Facebook have been also asked to file their response on this matter.

On Wednesday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, said the Menlo Park-based company won’t go ahead with its payment services till it complies with all local regulations. TOI previously reported how WhatsApp submitted a revised proposal to NPCI in January.

“They (WhatsApp) were planning to submit a final audit report by the end of this month. There has been a consideration to allow it to be taken to more than 10 million users but it won’t be a full roll-out in one go as such a large-scale launch might affect the UPI infrastructure,” said a person aware of the matter.

A WhatsApp India spokesperson declined to comment on the matter while an email sent to NPCI did not elicit any response on the matter.

WhatsApp Pay’s freedom from beta-stage restrictions will increase competition among existing platforms on UPI like Walmart-backed PhonePe, Alibaba-backed Paytm and Google Pay.

Wednesday’s proceedings were the result of a petition filed by Good Governance Chambers, a think-tank, in February which raised questions on WhatsApp’ regulatory compliance as well as security and privacy hazards of the platform. Prior to this, Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) had challenged WhatsApp’s data compliance and beta-testing being allowed on UPI. RBI’s last official response on the CASC petition in November was that WhatsApp is yet to be 100% compliant. The apex court has now tagged both the matters together in its order.





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