18:21 GMT24 September 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp is expected to roll out its much-delayed payment service in India by the end of 2019.

    According to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), for the next two months WhatsApp will be compliant with data localisation norms in India, local media reported on Tuesday.

    Agreeing to fully meet the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) data localisation norms requires foreign companies such as WhatsApp to store transaction and user data of Indians within the country itself and delete the same from foreign servers within 24 hours of collection.

    With its own in-chat payment option, WhatsApp aims to facilitate Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based transactions on its app, where users would not be asked to share their bank account numbers and IFSC codes.

    The messenger has been running a beta version of its payments service since 2018 in India and its official launch is being keenly awaited by its over 300 million users in the country.

    Citing statements from the NPCI's Chief Executive Dilip Asbe, the report suggested that even after the launch of WhatsApp's payments in India, it would take at least two years to reduce the current cash dominance in the nation’s economy.

    Currently, only 100 million Indians use digital payments and the number is required to touch the 300 million in order to have any material impact on cash in circulation in India.

    Search engine giant Google has also been operating its UPI-based digital payments platform called “Google Pay” in India since 2017 and currently has a user base of 45 million.

    Transactions on Google Pay hit $81 billion in March 2019 at an annualised run-rate level.

    Other domestic players like Paytm, Phone Pe, and Freecharge are facilitating UPI-based digital transactions in India.

    The news comes at a time when WhatsApp is at a war with the Indian government, opposing allowing the complete traceability of private messages.

    As an alternative to complete traceability, WhatsApp's parent company Facebook suggested the use of metadata and machine intelligence to help the enforcement agencies determine the basic details of suspicious WhatsApp communications, such as call durations, to investigate the spread of any fake news in India

    Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communication Nick Clegg met India’s federal Home Minister Amit Shah, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on 12 September to discuss the alternative; however, India dismissed the proposal

    WhatsApp provides an end-to-end encrypted messaging service to its over 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide.


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