WhatsApp Payments was supposed to come out in June, but it’s already July with no sign of the service going public anytime soon. Turns out, the Indian government might be behind the hold-up.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the administration is concerned about how user data will be stored. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is apparently asking WhatsApp and its partner banks to give them more details about the payments system.
Reasons for WhatsApp Payments Delay
MeitY is further demanding that the National Payments Corporation of India confirm whether or not WhatsApp is fully compliant with its requirements. One of those requirements is to store customer data on local servers to protect their privacy and security.
A WhatsApp spokesperson confirmed that it was working closely with the Indian government and various banks to expand the payments service to more people. She didn’t confirm any kind of timeline for when this would happen though.
WhatsApp Payments has actually been around for quite a few months now in a closed, limited beta test. About a million people have access to it at the moment. This sounds like a lot, but it leaves out the app’s remaining 229 million users in India.
There might be another reason for the government’s delay. Relations are a bit strained between WhatsApp and the administration at the moment thanks to the rise of fake news, doctored images, and falsified videos on the platform. MeitY recently threatened legal action against the firm for abetting violence if it didn’t do something about the issue.
WhatsApp can’t really afford any more delays with its payments service. Rivals like Paytm have the early bird advantage and are well-established in the market. The Facebook-owned app has another kind of advantage – a massive, devoted user base who are already using it to chat and conduct business transactions.