Indian Government Bottlenecks WhatsApp Payments Service Citing Data Privacy Concern

The problems for WhatsApp seem to be never-ending as it faces a new hurdle in unveiling its latest feature. Being embroiled in a controversy over lynchings in India, the messaging behemoth faces a delay in launching its new feature in India “WhatsApp Payments.”

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Indian Government Bottlenecks WhatsApp Payments Service Citing Data Priv...
WhatsApp Awaits Indian Govt.’s Nod To Roll Out It’s New Feature

According to the people familiar with the matter, the Indian government impedes the nationwide launch of WhatsApp payments service by the parent company Facebook Inc. The administration expressed its concerns over the handling and storage of user’s data.

The nation’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has raised query asking WhatsApp and its associate banks to provide more details concerning the payments system. As the matter is tightlipped, the ministry officials wish to remain anonymous. They further added that they have requested the industry’s payment administrator, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), to affirm that WhatsApp is completely acquiescent with its obligations.

Anne Yeh, a WhatsApp spokeswoman, declining to elaborate on the timing of a country-wide launch stated, “We are working closely with the Indian government, NPCI and multiple banks including our payment service providers to expand the feature to more people.” However, NPCI’s Chief Executive Officer, Dilip Asbe, declined to comment.

WhatsApp’s embroilment in the lynching controversy in the country has led to the delay. Fake videos and doctored images of child abductions were being circulated on the messaging platform, resulting in demented mobs beating and lynching nearly two dozen Indians. MEITY forewarned the company by issuing a statement that the company will face legal actions for backing up violence if no appropriate actions are taken by the company.

It’s not clear what role — if any — the scandal is playing in the WhatsApp approval process. Among the acquiescence ethics, recently India’s central bank made it mandatory to stow user data on local servers, safeguarding its security and privacy. Amidst the rising rivalry from global rivals such as Sweden’s Truecaller, Google Inc’s Tez, and local leader PayTm, further delay in the expansion could cost the Facebook-owned company.

A New Delhi-based digital business strategy analyst at Forrester Research Inc., Arnab Gupta articulated, “Rivals have an early-mover advantage and a further hold-up could mean that WhatsApp loses out on converting users and business customers. The faster they roll out, the quicker they can make improvements based on user and business feedback and make it seamless.”

The messaging service has proved to be a powerful growth engine for the tech-giant as it enables the groups to share viral videos and other gossips. India has flourished as WhatsApp’s largest global market with 230 million users using it in their day-to-day life. Furthermore, the introduction of payments business on the beta version has attracted approximately 1 million people in February.

If there had been no hurdles, WhatsApp was expected to roll out its new feature by the month of June.

The digital payment feature of the WhatsApp poses a threat to its rivals as the sheer number of WhatsApp users are relatively higher than any other apps. The service is as similar to that of China’s WeChat, which in the similar fashion first stockpiled hundreds of millions of users before leaping into payments. Thus, becoming a key player in mobi-finance.

Accusing Facebook of evading the security requirements, Vijay Shekhar Sharma expressed the probability of Facebook creating a “walled garden” comprising of a huge database of money-spinning user information which will be fully controlled by the tech-giant.

WhatsApp’s monitoring snags with the governmental efforts to forestall the messaging platform from further fueling the violence. The company has resorted to warning readers on the fake news by broadcasting full-page advertisements in top-shot Hindi and English newspapers.

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