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World needs to see India’s billion opportunities, says WhatsApp head Will Cathcart

WhatsApp plans to launch its payment service for all users in the country this year, the company’s global head Will Cathcart said.

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi |
Updated: July 26, 2019 6:59:50 am
WhatsApp, WhatsApp Niti Aayog, WhatsApp program, WhatsApp Business in India, Will Cathcart, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Amitabh Kant, Tech news Mr. Will Cathcart, Global Head of WhatsApp with Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant at the event in Delhi today. (Image source: WhatsApp)

After a bumpy road to government approval, WhatsApp plans to launch its payment service for all users this year, the company’s global head Will Cathcart said on Thursday.

“We want the world to see how India is a gateway to a billion opportunities,” Cathcart said on his first trip to the country since he has transitioned from VP of the Facebook App to WhatsApp in March.

The UPI-based payment service is currently in pilot mode in the country with 100 million users. WhatsApp says they now have 400 million of their 1.5 billion total users in India.

“We are looking forward to WhatsApp (Pay), it’s just that WhatsApp has been very slow in availing all the regulatory freedoms, fulfilling that so that WhatsApp can drive digital payments in India. I’m looking forward for them to fulfill all the regulatory commitments,” said NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

“I’ve always wondered what life would be without WhatsApp … I think many of us could survive without Facebook but it would probably be difficult to survive without WhatsApp,” he said.

The company has announced a partnership with NITI Aayog’s Women Transforming India awards by providing $100,000 and WhatsApp business training seminars to each awardee.

A WhatsApp spokesperson told The Indian Express that Cathcart met with Reserve Bank officials on Wednesday in Mumbai to discuss the official rollout of the payment service, adding that all financial data is set to be stored locally.

Along with Cathcart, vice president of Global Policy and Communications, Victoria Grand, as well as other company officials from the Singapore office are in the national capital.

The RBI had issued a directive in April 2018 mandating all payment data to be stored in India. The deadline for compliance was in October 2018.

This past June, after the industry raised several concerns, the Central Bank released an FAQ stating that data processing could occur abroad for 24 hours but then must be transferred into India for storage.

India’s draft data protection bill released in July 2018 states that a copy of all personal data be stored in India, while all critical data must only be stored in India. A draft e-commerce policy also ordered strict data localisation requirements.

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