After spending more than a year being stubborn on its stance to not comply with the Reserve Bank of India’s data localisation guidelines, WhatsApp has now stated that the company is ready to abide by RBI’s recommendations.

As per a report by The Economic Times, a senior Facebook executive said that WhatsApp is currently left with minor engineering work after which the company will be ready to abide by RBI guidelines which mandate a payments company to store data in India.

In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court at the end of March, the RBI stated that WhatsApp was yet to comply with the data localisation norms laid down close to a year ago. The bank regulator further mentioned that it may have to resort to regulatory actions to expedite compliance of data localisation.

A Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) official reacting to WhatsApp’s 180-degree change in stance said, “WhatsApp has realised that there is no way to get away with it. (However) we still don’t have it in writing.”

WhatsApp has been planning to widely roll-out its UPI-based in-chat payments system named WhatsApp Pay for over a year now. The service has been in beta mode since February 2018, limiting the WhatsApp Pay to only 1 million users in the country.

In April 2018, the RBI had issued a circular asking all payment system operators in the country to store all customer data within India. The move was geared towards ensuring that user details remain secure against privacy breaches. The payment system companies had been given six months to comply with the localisation norms.

While major players in the digital payments ecosystem including Paytm and PhonePe complied with the norms, WhatsApp with its payment system had been seeking approval to copy existing payments data to servers in India, while also storing the same data on its overseas servers.

The hugely popular messaging service recently appointed Abhijit Bose as its India head and India, as a market, continues to be the company’s largest in the world with more than 200 million monthly active users.

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