Facebook’s WhatsApp is one step closer to officially launching its mobile payment service WhatsApp in India, as the messaging platform said that it’s now in full compliance with the country’s regulation on data localization.
WhatsApp’s application with Indian regulators, including National Payment Council of India (NPCI) and RBI, has been pending for two years. As an interim solution, it had launched the payment feature in a pilot program with around one million early adopters. But it had failed to scale up the testing user pool to a planned ten million due to regulatory constraints.
WhatsApp has over 400 million users in India, making the South Asian country its single largest market.
The global messaging service recently informed the Supreme Court of India that it has fully abided by the data localization norms stipulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that require all Indian units of global companies to store user data inside the country. Now the last piece WhatsApp would need before a full roll-out, would be the green light from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The news comes days after WhatsApp launched the in-chat payment service in Brazil after two years of beta testing the service in India.
Local media Times of India (TOI), quoting WhatsApp’s documents filed with RBI said, the company informed the regulator that it has spent “significant engineering time and effort” over the last seven months to comply with the guidelines. “An independent third-party auditor, certified by CERT-in (the government agency under the IT ministry), has confirmed that WhatsApp’s payments feature satisfies the data localization requirements under the RBI circular and frequently asked questions (FAQs),” WhatsApp said.
WhatsApp fast-paced its attempt at abiding by localization norms soon after Facebook invested USD 5.7 billion in Indian conglomerate Jio Platforms. WhatsApp Pay is a key factor in Facebook’s strategic investment in the local tycoon Mukesh Ambani-owned firm as it allows its e-commerce initiative JioMart to sell its product through WhatsApp, a move that is likely to help WhatsApp Pay get mass and quick adoption in the world’s second-most populous country.
“In the very near future, JioMart, Jio’s digital new commerce platform, and WhatsApp will empower nearly three crore small Indian kirana shops (neighborhood stores) to digitally transact with every customer in their neighborhood,” Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries Ltd, had said in a video statement.
As Facebook is still counting on WhatsApp Pay to take off in India, its counterparts’ payment services, including Google Pay and Amaozn Pay, have already had firm footings in India’s rapidly growing digital payment markets, leaving the social media giant little time and space to play a hard catchup.