Inside two-and-a-half years of WhatsApp Payments hell
The proposed payments service has languished in regulatory and legal limbo. This is the story of why.
Arti Singh
05 October 2020

Two-plus years of beta is unheard of. Either allow them or kill them, what is the point of keeping them in limbo for so long? Only infrastructure projects can last that long, like a bridge getting built forever. But here you are talking about technology.”

This, from a senior banker, sums up the state of WhatsApp Payments in India.

When, in February 2018, the world’s most popular messaging app announced the beta launch of a payments service built on the Unified Payments Interface—the National Payments Corporation of India’s game-changing digital payments platform—little did it know that it was in for a “never-ending begging for the regulator’s blessings.”

Facebook-owned WhatsApp was quickly cleared for trials of up to 1 million users, but almost immediately, it ran into concerns over data privacy. At the time, the government was pushing hard on a “data localization” narrative, mandating financial services companies in particular to store all

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