The RBI also mentioned that it “concerned that WhatsApp was storing some payment data elements outside India beyond the permitted timelines indicated in the circular and the Frequently Asked Questions on ‘Storage of Payment System Data’ issued by RBI on June 26, 2019”and was not to go live until all norms were met by the company.
ADVICES BY RBI
So, RBI advised the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to ensure that that the payment data elements as referred to therein are not stored outside India beyond permitted timelines. In addition, NPCI was also advised to ensure that WhatsApp does not store any of the payment transaction data elements in hashed / de-identified / encrypted form in its systems outside India. NPCI was also advised not to permit WhatsApp to go live for full scale operations on UPI payment system, till the time they are fully compliant
Later, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) informed that Whatsapp has complied with norms and regulations pertaining to the storage of data by payment systems vis-à-vis its proposed Pay services.
The RBI made the comments in its response to a court notice, seeking its stand on a petition by an NGO which wanted to stop WhatsApp from carrying out trials of its payment service in India before it complied with local regulations.
In the case Centre for Accountability for Systematic Change (CASC) v. Union of India, in an affidavit filed in the SC on July 27 RBI stated,
“RBI always weighs and explores the available regulatory options to ensure expeditious and complete compliance with the circular requirements and has been continuously taking up the matter with NPCI, which has resulted in the compliance from WhatsApp.”
RBI also mentioned that communication regarding the System Audit Report and the Post Change Review Report were done by NPCI and sent to WhatsApp touching upon the details concerning storage of payment system data.
In letter dated November 1, 2019, RBI expressed that the NPCI was advised to ensure that the payment data elements, as referred to therein, are not stored by WhatsApp outside India beyond permitted timelines.RBI was told that NPCI would work closely for resolution of the 3 issues by May 31, 2020.
Then request was made by NPCI for RBI’s approval to grant final ‘go-live’ to WhatsApp on UPI, subject “to (a) the third-party audit report confirming closure of the committed 2 items, and (b) acceptable VA/config reports from third party auditor”.
The Apex court has been already informed by WhatsApp that it would not roll out its payment service without full compliance with the norms.