WhatsApp in India has become a necessity. People who own a smartphone need to have WhatsApp and they need to be on it. It is kind of a taboo to not be on WhatsApp if you are aware of the internet and smartphones. A lot of people in India even work on WhatsApp, there are people earning loads of money using WhatsApp.
The company has even launched a WhatsApp business. The Facebook-owned messaging app has over 200 million users in India. It is one of the most downloaded applications on Play Store and people look at it as an epitome for messaging. The one thing that WhatsApp offers its users is privacy which is hard to get nowadays. It is currently fighting with the government over the same and there might not be a way out as it is becoming prey of misinformation and fake news.
Meanwhile, a year ago, in February of 2018, WhatsApp was beta testing its Payments option. It had rolled out its beta version and there were still problems with the app. The major problem was the Indian government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asking for data localization and compliance. There were rumors about it coming out in June that year, then in December and we still have nothing but rumors. The National Payments Corporation of India has also talked about this.
Dilip Asbe, who is the CEO of NPCI said that WhatsApp has not yet complied with the given regulations and that is the reason it is not allowed to launch the app. Asbe was talking to Quartz, he said, “We are still waiting for WhatsApp to be compliant, and they are expected to do that.” There were rumors that WhatsApp had come up with data localization in October of 2018. However, the rumors were shot down when NPCI and RBI claimed that WhatsApp was data mirroring and not localizing it.
Data mirroring is storing a copy of something from a different server. This is not what the government wants, there are far more regulations to go through. That being said, WhatsApp has missed a golden opportunity. It had 200 million users and given that India’s payments market is going to reach $1 trillion by 2023, it only felt logical.
WhatsApp can blame no one as it is their own fault. The company couldn’t comply with the government and now has to fight off Google, Flipkart, Amazon, and other giants. The launch, however, is imminent. The question that arises at this moment is when. The government has already asked the company to do the needful, the only thing that is in their way is themselves.